Friday, July 27, 2007

Everyone describes pownce as "the digg people's answer to twitter." And that's really what it is, a recreation of twitter-pioneered micro-blogging, but with the experience of having watched twitter evolve and scale ... plus with a couple of useful features integrated.

Natch, you post a few quick words about what you're up to and your friends get to see it on their own pownce page. Woohoo.

But then they've added the features that twitterites seem to've invented/popularized on their own. Any post can be designated a "Link" and your post will include a little chicklet to click and visit whatever site you're talking about. Designate a post as a "File" and you'll be able to upload about 10 Mb along with your text, that friends and fans can download with a click.

They've also formalized the twittermob, allowing you to designate your post as an "event." You can then specify a time and place that pertain to whatever you're posting. So in case your friends couldn't figure out what "beers at zeitgeist after work" means, they're now saved from the hobgoblin of ambiguity.

In short, it's a knock-off with a few informal "use cases" integrated as actual "features." So naturally, I hope that twitter catches up or does it differently or gets that magical "first mover" advantage and continues to survive as the "kleenex" of microblogging.

Unfortunately for twitter, pownce has something that twitter just hasn't bothered to build ... a desktop client that is full-featured, unobtrusive, aesthetically pleasing and written in-house. They use Adobe's AIR platform (flash on steroids and rebranded) to make it work on macs and pcs, and it really just works. It pains me to love it, but sheesh, have you ever tried to find a twitter desktop app that wasn't either totally busted or totally ugly? (Pocket Tweets doesn't count, that's hip-top.)

At lunch today, my cow orkers mentioned that Twitter just received a round of funding from some small players, and one of them is Marc Andreessen ... it'd suck for him if pownce turns out to be the Internet Explorer of microblogging.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

In a nutshell, Shozu extends your camera phone's capabilities to save images or video directly to your favorite blogging and picture sharing sites. It'll send stuff you've previously saved on your phone, or it'll send something you just captured. They're currently able to send to, buzznet, any email address, flickr, an ftp account, blogger, kodak,, livejournal, metaweblog,, picassa, pikeo, qipit, scoopt, textamerica, typepad, vox, webshots, wordpress and youtube. They don't seem to support social networking sites yet, like myspace, facebook, xanga and the like.

In short, it works just fine. Once configured, it's just a couple clicks on the phone to send your pictures and video to any site you like. Every new picture or video you make, it pops up a menu and offers to send it to your configured sites. There's even an automatic CC (as in carbon copy) function to always upload images to the sites you configure.

To me, though, it doesn't add much value. I've already got entries for flickr, radar, rabble, livejournal and others in my phone's contact list, so it's the same number of clicks for me to send pictures to any of those sites. Plus, shozu adds their own logo to every post they make on your behalf, and it's a pretty big one. MMS or emailing my pictures into a sharing site directly doesn't add anyone's logo to my posts.

The other nuisance is that I can no longer take several pictures in a row on this N75. After every picture, it tells me to open the flip phone so I can tell it whether or not I want to send the image to one of my configured sites.

For some folks, maybe road-warriors (claims adjusters?) or maybe teens or maybe grampa, this might be a really useful utility. Plus it's the only one I've seen that lets me upload to an ftp site, which could be turned into a very interesting sort of "webcam" application, showing my latest cameraphone picture on a web page, up to the minute. But for me, I'll be sticking to direct upload with the email/MMS gateways kept in my contact list.

Nice features; maybe they'll get bought for parts.

A couple weeks ago the mobile industry was all excited that Coca-Cola was actually going to try its hand at a mobile social networking community. So they created a Sprite-branded mobile community called The Yard. I think the name is supposed to refer to the fun place children get to go when they're not in class ... not the place prison inmates go to lift weights and shank rival gang members.

To gain access to the yard, you must text the word "yard" to 59666 (which spells "lymon") and they'll send you back a magical URL that you can access on yer phone. The site lets you upload pictures, and issue "shouts" to all of your friends. I didn't have any friends so I clicked the link to go find some.

You can search for new friends based on shared interests or location or "tag" ... and if you pick interests they give you a list of drop-down menu choices to cleanly cubby-hole yourself into a market researcher's matrix. For instance, one "interest" category is "How do you stay in touch with your friends" so you can find friends who share your desire to connect by phone, email, IM or smoke signal. I think that last one is to identify the stoners.

It's interesting to see a gigantic corporation dipping a toe in the water. The poor bastards gotta be terrified. Somewhere a marketing person is saying "how are we ever going to commercialize a medium where people just send things to each other directly, with no corporate supervision!? Think of the children!"