March 24, 2011

Smartphone-based Social Network ‘Color’ Emerges

A new smartphone-based social network with sights set on Facebook's dominance is set to launch social communications beyond the personal computer, various media outlets are reporting.

Color is the name of the free application for iPhones and Android platforms which allows people nearby, running the same application, to capture and share photos, videos and text simultaneously to multiple devices in real time.

"This transition to post-PC world is going to be a huge fundamental shift. We're sharing more and more information in real-time," Bill Nguyen, the brains behind this latest start up, told Reuters.

Color joins a fresh category of social networks that stream photos to and from your smartphone at the same time they are taken, it becomes ideal for parties of friends wanting to see all the photos taken, Nguyen told USA Today. He also thinks it can be an interesting way to meet people in public settings.

"No other app connects people like Color does," Sequoia Capital partner Douglas Leone explained to USA Today's Jefferson Graham. It's "an instant social network" that captures "experiences with those around you."

Color does strip away some level of privacy, Leone continued. Color is open and can be accessed without a profile or password. "Don't take pictures (within the app) if you don't want to have them shared. This is like Twitter, in that everything is open."

The business side of the application hopes to make money by selling geo-located local ads. No personal data is gathered from users and abuse of the service will result in a phone being blocked from Color's network.

Business partner Mike McGuire believes Color has a good chance at success because, "People are really interested in having a 360-degree view of what's going on around them. Others might find it oppressive and weird, but then they don't have to use the app."

"The days of having to say anything are done," Nguyen tells AP. "There's no more profiles, there's no more friending, there's no more electronic dog fence created by Facebook. It's all over. This is the post-PC world. It's a brand new way of sharing."

Other Color users within 50 feet will be able to share and Color will continue sending feeds to people you recently were in contact with, although those contacts fade over time if you don't engage with their streams. In other settings, a concert perhaps, Color knows to join the entire group of users into one large stream.

Bill Nguyen sold his last start-up Lala to Apple in 2009 for a reported $80 million. Last September he raised $14 million in seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. One of Silicon Valley's biggest venture funds Sequoia Capital jumped aboard just before launch with $25 million and another $2 million from Silicon Valley Bank.

Previous tech start ups that Nguyen founded include companies like Seven in 2001 and Onebox before that which he sold in 2001 for $850 million to Phone.com. Color will be his eighth start-up.

"You're going to start using it and realize your neighbors and co-workers are really cool and you should hang out with them" Nguyen told AFP. "And, you will hopefully spend a little less time on Facebook telling people from high school and college how great you are doing."


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