The tech world is buzzing over a new social networking app for iPhone and Android called Color that launched Wednesday, after securing an "eye-popping" $41 million in venture capital, possibly the most "pre-launch funding in start-up history." The free (for now) app is location-based, like Foursquare and Grindr, and allows Color users to post and share photos or video with other "adjacent" users simultaneously. To take a birthday party as an example, rather than waiting for fellow party guests to post their event photos via Facebook, Color users can see the event unfold, photographically, as it happens. Its potential to create a virtual, multi-perspective view of time and place is being hailed as "miraculous," and a possible challenger to Facebook. But is it really a $41 million idea? (Watch an intro for the Color app)
Yes, it's revolutionary: "Just as the iPhone changed everything about mobile phones, Color will transform the way people communicate with each other," says Mike Krupka, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, a Color investor, as quoted in the Financial Times. "Once or twice a decade a company emerges from Silicon Valley that can change everything. Color is one of those companies."
"Valley-backed Color's 'miraculous' new app"
This changes everything: We're talking augmented reality here — using a computer to enhance a real world experience, says John Battelle's Searchblog. "If Color is used by a statistically significant percentage of folks, nearly every location that matters on earth will soon be draped in an ever-growing tapestry of visual cloth, one that no doubt will also garner commentary, narrative structure, social graph meaning, and plasticity of interpretation." It has the potential to be "mind-bendingly powerful," and Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare better take note.
"Why Color matters: Augmented reality and nuanced social graphs may finally may come of age"
Nah, it won't live up to the hype: "As an investment," Color "may be a case of buzzphrase (location-based, photosharing) mashup gone wrong," says Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic. I can see how it could be an "excellent flirting/status-securing mechanism" for high schoolers and college coeds, or those living in a hipster enclave, but it doesn't really have a point if you're in an area that's not densely populated with beautiful, intriguing people. I'm going to keep an eye on it for "anthropological reasons," but the next big thing, this is not.
"New location-based photo app not built for America"
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