iPhone mobile application Color recently had one of the most talked about startup product launches in a long time.
A lot of that was due the fact that they raised $41M prelaunch, have a well-known team, and the mobile photo-sharing space is really hot.
The other reason it was so talked about was because, for a $41M application, the product itself was really ineffective as a first-time user experience. Tech blogger Robert Scoble famously ranted about it, and many others tweeted or blogged about how confused they were by the user interface and the lack of social interaction.
Blowing the first-time user experience is never good, and I also felt like my first usage of Color was not fun or interesting.
However, due to the hype I fortunately knew enough to know that Color was designed for group experiences, so I didn’t write it off immediately and decided to try and use it with others.
I started using Color at a restaurant with GuideMe lead developer Joe Garstka, and later we added a couple of other users at my house.
The pictures and videos we were taking were automatically popping up in our applications and creating group albums based on time and location without us having to create and specify anything. Less work from the user is always good.
There is amazing potential behind implicit social networks and the automatic grouping of people based on location for an application. Also, creating a history of photos and videos at a specific location holds a lot of potential, and made it more likely that I would take a picture to leave it for future people to see when they were near that spot.
I think the key thing though that may make Color work, is that I found myself telling other people to try it with me. For the application to work, I needed others to participate. This is one of the key growth engines for successful network applications, and Color has that going for it.
On the flip side, it means early adopters without early adopter friends probably won’t use Color. People who are living in areas that are sparsely populated will also have a hard time getting that much value out of the application.
That might be okay though if Color can do various things to improve that first-time use while also letting the network effects happen.
There’s also a big opportunity here for Color, or other companies, to do the same type of creation of implicit location-based networks for other applications like gaming, chat, and more.
Color has a bright future, and enough cash in the bank to get over their initial rough launch.