Love it or loath it, the smartphone app Color is one of the most innovative Web products to have launched this year. It has a user experience that is as unique and different as Twitter was 5 years ago… I believe that Color has a very good chance of becoming a large scale success like Twitter. Certainly it’s funded to do so!” via Why Color May Be The Next Twitter.
I think the key word above is “chance.”
The conversation I’ve been having about Color with Matthew Shadbolt on Twitter had tapered off in the last few weeks. Last night he sent me the link to kick off the conversation again and it reminded me that I had not written a follow up post to my initial reaction to Color.com.
The week following the launch of Color.com was RETech South. And in the spirit of giving Color a fair chance, I was able to coerce a handful of friends to use Color on their iPhones and Androids at various locations around town. And I’ll say this; when it works, Color is a very slick app with some real sex appeal.
But I was coloring with friends.
The RETech South experience with Color was positive, but I feel strongly that it was positive because there were no strangers butting into our Color stream. And in the one and only instance where there was someone using color who was not part of our group, the photos they were taking didn’t feel additive to the experience, they felt like noise.
One evening at RETech South, about 40 of us ended up singing karaoke at a Korean karaoke joint. There were approximately 10 different private rooms. In our room, we were snapping photos throughout the night and having them all grouped together was nice. But if someone from another room had been using Color, their photos would have showed in our group. We would have been within 150 feet of each other, but not sharing the same experience at all. I don’t want their photos mixed in with our experience.
If I’m using Color to actively share photos of an event and I’m NOT there with a bunch of friends, I probably don’t care as much. In that moment, I’m just part of the larger crowd and might even enjoy the process of sharing the photos randomly. They all save to my phone, so I can share the best of them later with friends on Facebook or Twitter, so nothing is lost in that experience.
But if I’m at the same event with a large group of my friends, I really just want the group of photos I’m contributing to to be the ones that my friends and I have taken. In that instance, I don’t want to be coloring with strangers.
This is a major roadblock for me. I love the concepts being bantered about and the theoretical discussion of “elastic network” and “ambient social graph,” but in reality, I don’t really care about that ambient social graph. I care about my social graph. And I think there is a way for Color to live in both worlds. Give me the opportunity to create a group that only my friends can contribute to and I’m all over it. This is essentially what Foursquare is proposing with their version of photo sharing. That makes sense to me.
That’s my two cents. If you were at RETech South and joined in our little test, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.