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MeetMe’s Video-Centered “Charm” App Could Finally Monetize Digital Dating

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Charm, an app that has a whole new take on the typical dating app.

Charm AppApp first, monetization later. At least, that seems to be a pattern these days. And what better way to monetize than to incorporate video? Currently, video is helping a new app called Charm stand out from among the dating app crowd.

Apps such as Tinder have taken the dating world by storm. Essentially a game of “hot or not,” Tinder prompts people to swipe left (reject) or right (approve) on users’ photos in the hopes of making a match. According to TechCrunch, the app has matched more than 50 million people and about 50% of users open the app on a daily basis. But even with the high volume of usage, Tinder’s path to profit is still unclear.

But, through its utilization of video, the Charm app by MeetMe is aiming to do more than just connect local singles. Given how both Google and Facebook are enjoying a spike in mobile advertising revenue from their footage-based ventures (YouTube and Instagram, respectively), MeetMe seems poised to monetize the digital dating world.

On the surface, Charm doesn’t differ much from existing romance apps out there. Like Tinder and OkCupid, Charm identifies potential matches based on proximity, prompts users to reject or approve other users, and enables successful matches to chat with each other. But instead of choosing from among the usual selfies, however, Charm prompts users to upload short video clips of themselves.

Catherine Cook, the co-founder and vice president of brand strategy for MeetMe, believes that people are tired of the static nature of mobile dating apps.

“A major benefit of the video approach to dating is that it doesn’t reduce people to just a profile photo,” said Cook in an interview with Wired. “Apps like Tinder make it very easy to dismiss or express interest based on a profile photo, but we don’t believe you can make a first impression with just a photo–which may turn out to be five to 10 years old. A video shows personality and a realistic sense of what a person actually looks like now.”

But regardless of the video-versus-photos debate, it’s likely Cook and her co-founder/brother Geoff Cook might not be looking to reinvent matchmaker formulas like Match.com or to emulate the bar scene like Tinder. The siblings’ vision for Charm–which Geoff calls “Tinder meets Vine”–could just be a purely lucrative endeavor, as the app’s distinguishing feature (video) opens the door for a more tangible media buy.

Video has certainly paid off in the past. According to Bloomberg, YouTube’s mobile advertising revenue tripled to $350 million in a span of just six months. And Instagram (via Facebook) has similar plans to monetize its popular video feature, finally tapping into its impressive 130 million-user base.

Charm is still in its infancy (see its introductory video, here), and its monetization plans will likely be put on hold until it has gained enough of a following to implement active media buys. But, assuming Charm can eventually boast similar user numbers as its digital dating competitors, the Cooks will finally have put a price on love.

 

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App Gives Users the Benefits of ‘Bump’ without the Bump

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Airlike, an app that could change the way you interact with your phone and the files stored on it.

AirLike AppRemember Bump? When the file-sharing app first appeared on the market, the technology that allowed two users to transfer information from one phone to another simply by holding their devices and bumping fists was a great party trick. But did fist-pounding one’s neighbor become a universal way to share information? Did Bumping become the new handshake at networking events and business meetings? Not exactly.

A new app–Airlike–is giving users the opportunity to use the same style of proximity technology to share files in a more practical way. Indeed, wrote reviewer Tucker Cummings on Tapscape, it’s practical and fun, and can be compared to technology seen in the movies. “Whenever I watch a sci-fi or action flick, I find myself wishing that the technology I see on the screen was real,” he said. “Airlike is pretty much the closest thing I’ve found to that kind of ability.”

With Airlike, rather than physically touching, users simply point their phones at one another and “flick” files toward each other with their fingers. Business users may feel more comfortable with this less touchy-feely way to file share, especially when it comes to new connections. Instead of using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, Airlike leverages GPS and the phone’s gyroscope, compass and accelerometer sensors to send the information.

A lack of consumer enthusiasm for touching others wasn’t the only challenge Bump faced and Airlike overcomes.

“Along with trumping Bump’s need for physical contact, [Airlike maker] Displair is also talking up Airlike’s functionality over Apple’s own AirDrop phone-to-phone filesharing offering,” wrote TechCrunch. “That’s because AirDrop requires iOS7, while Airlike works on iOS 6 and up, meaning that it supports a greater number of Apple’s older devices.”

Airlike has the edge now, but could it, like Bump, face similar threats of being overshadowed by a newer, more feature-rich rival? Not yet, but when building a better mousetrap, it’s always wise to keep an eye out for the exterminator. Indeed, with the average lifespan of an app estimated to be 14 months, Airlike could be just as cool as the market needs it to be–and relevant for just as long.

 

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Seene Enables iPhone Users to Make 3D Photos

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Seene, an app that adds a whole new dimension (pun intended) to the way users take and share photos.

Seene AppPeople have long been touting 3D (a.k.a. the third dimension) as “the future of technology.” But while 3D technology has advanced dramatically—as seen in movies such as “Avatar” and “Gravity”—it’s always had an associated exclusivity and exorbitant price that was prohibitive for the masses.

But the new Seene photo app, by Obvious Engineering, is looking to extend 3D technology to all–or, at least, to all smartphone users.

“The [Seene] team shares an interest in helping people better connect with and understand the world that they see via their mobile phone,” said Obvious Engineering founder Andrew McPhee. “With Seene, we wanted to use some of the technology we have developed to evolve what it means to visually share your life with others.”

Seene captures both image and depth information as a user moves his or her phone around a subject. The app then builds up a depth map (3D model) of what the user is looking at.

“This radically changes the viewing experience because as soon as viewers move their phone even slightly, the three-dimensional surface that supports the captured image accentuates the depth of the photo,” said McPhee. “This provides a powerful impression of occlusion through depth and movement, making it feel more like you are looking at something real instead of a 2D photo.”

Seene is hardly alone in the 3D photo app arena. Other popular 3D photo apps include Jittergram, 3D Camera and Scubo. But the big difference between Seene and its competitors is that McPhee’s app utilizes non-stereoscopic 3D photo formats. Essentially, what this means is that users don’t need any special glasses or additional hardware or server processing to view 3D pictures. The result is a format that is “instantly enjoyable and inherently shareable,” according to McPhee.

The million-dollar (at least) question for McPhee is whether Seene can eventually dethrone photo-sharing giants such as Instagram and Vine.

“We wanted to test the waters and see if people were ready to share something more than static images and video frames,” said McPhee. “The public response has been a resounding yes, and we have had more than 700,000 downloads since we launched a little over a month ago.”

The next step for Seene is to fully integrate with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, as well as with email and text. For the time being, Tweets and Facebook posts feature a 2D preview of what are called “seenes.” Tumblr has fully embraced the 3D photo format, enabling users to view seenes as they were natively intended.

Integrating with Twitter and Facebook are the next logical next steps, but McPhee has a vivid plan laid out for the future.

“We’re looking to evolve people’s expectations of how they can share their life with a new medium that is enabled by the mini-super computers that we as a generation now carry around in our pockets,” said McPhee. “Merging image, shape and interactivity is a good starting point, and we think this has the potential to succeed on a mass scale.”

Competing with Instagram and Vine is a tall order, but, as McPhee noted, “The thing that is wooing users is the ability to share the world as it actually looks—not as a flat representation.”

Download Seene for free at the App Store.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for iOS and Android

 

ActiveReplay’s ‘Trace’ Looks to Take Action Sports to a Whole New Level

Trace App for Action SportsWelcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at ‘Trace,’ an app that enables users to track, motivate and share their action sports achievements.

If there’s a physical activity, odds are there’s an app to track and share your exercise achievements. ‘MapMyRun’ and ‘FitBit’ are popular smartphone apps that enable users to map routes, track activity, log diet and/or share performance with friends on Facebook.

Similarly, Nike+ Fuelband tracks every movement made by a person and creates goals to keep users on the go. The band itself has even become a fashion statement.

But while there are endless tracking, motivational and social apps for running or exercise, there are few—or none, to be exact—for action sports.

ActiveReplay’s ‘Trace’ is looking to change this.

“Trace is the product that we’ve always wanted,” said David Lokshin, co-founder of ActiveReplay. “People on the team grew up skating, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, and this is some of the data that we’ve always wanted [to have at our fingertips].”

The ‘Trace’ device is physically attached to a skateboard, surfboard or snowboard and connects to a smartphone app. The app is able to identify statistics like waves caught for surfers, runs and vert for skiers, tricks for skaters and a lot more. Like exercise apps, users can share achievements socially and set applicable action sports goals to improve skills.

The app isn’t public yet, but to the delight of Lokshin and the rest of the ActiveReplay family, ‘Trace’ surpassed its KickStarter goal by $11,260, raising a total of $161,260 over a 45-day span.

“[The fund-raising process] stretched the full gamut of emotions,” Lokshin said. “We hit our [KickStarter] goal, and we’re super excited to go back to building product full time.”

‘Trace’ is on-pace to be released during Summer 2014.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for Android and iOS

 

‘Felt’ App Could Revitalize Greeting Card Industry

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at ‘Felt,’ an iPad app that is breathing digital life back into the greeting card industry.

Sending greeting cards in the mail has become more of a novelty than a social standard in the modern, tech-dominated world. Most people would rather send an email or e-card than take the time to pick out a physical card, somehow find a stamp and drop it in the mailbox. In fact, I even recently received a wedding invitation via Facebook.

But ‘Felt’ is making greeting cards cool again. The iPad app enables users to browse through a variety of genres, select a greeting of choice (i.e. Happy Birthday) and write (with a finger or stylus pen) a quick note—all from the comforts of your couch. But Felt then transforms the digital into the physical. A user’s final product is properly printed and sent to your provided recipient.

Felt App - Step 1

(users can swipe through a variety of card genres)

Tomer Albert, Felt’s founder, realizes there might be some competition, but that Felt could still have the upper hand.

“There are a lot of apps that mails cards, but we’re the first app that lets you hand write the message and the address on the
envelope,” Albert said. “You’re drawing your thoughts. You’re putting yourself into the message. Your handwriting is 100% uniquely yours.”

Felt App - Step 2

(with a stylus pen, users can actually use their own handwriting on the cards and change the colors too)

Albert, who created Felt when he himself was confronted with the lack of iPad greeting card apps, wanted the app to be a quality option.

“We both curate designs and create cards ourselves,” Albert said. “The card is thick and crisp and recipients can’t tell that the handwriting is printed. The writing looks completely authentic. We use Kraft envelopes and Mohawk paper, which is regarded by paper aficionados as some of the highest quality paper in the world.”

Felt App - Step 3

(users write the return and recipient address just like a normal card, but Felt takes care of the stamp and shipment)

The price point to use Felt is pretty minimal too. The app itself is free and the card and domestic postage costs $3.99 combined. Considering quality greeting card stores like Papyrus vend their “handmade” cards for upwards of $6.95, Felt’s cost appears to be reasonable. International shipping options are also in the works.

Felt is still looking towards the future and for ways to make the app more attractive to prospective users.

“We have very exciting new features planed for this year, but we don’t want to give away all of our fun surprises just yet,” Albert said. “However, we do want everyone to know that we’re continuously adding new card designs to the app.”

Felt iPad App

(cards are printed on quality paper, turning the digital experience into a physical one)

With technology always changing, it’s inevitable that apps like Felt will have to adapt. But Albert thinks people will still feel the need to personally communicate with one another.

“In five years we’d love to be the most personal, heartfelt way people communicate with whatever smart devices we’re using.”

You can watch Felt’s introductory video here and download their free app at the Apple iTunes store.

 

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