May 14, 2008

Aussie mapmates service has no platform to stand on

Posted in Articles tagged , , , , at 3:55 pm by siddey

Michael Robson’s new Australian based venture, mapmates, is by no means travelling uncharted waters. It is essentially another friendfinder application to add to the crowded pool, however, this time around it carries an explicit service charge in addition to applicable carrier data fees. Attempting to charge for such a basic service is a big ask, especially when we’re still currently sore from being financially milked by Telcos when it comes to mobile data charges.

I hate to bag an Australian service, purely because of my bias against always hearing about US based services but I think if Robson is really going to make it a success he should be thinking more in terms of platforms and not services. Friendfinding does not equate to something people would necessarily explicitly pay for and I think that’s evident from the wreckage left by other similar free services.

Adding this as one offering amongst many on a mapmates platform would make more sense. Opening it up to other developers to use your location code and deliver their own widgets is even more compelling. In the meantime, without a broader offer, will people really pay AU$25 for 2000 “finds”?

Time will tell but I don’t believe so.

To bring mapmates in league with our US counterparts, we need to focus more on building platforms and marketing them like hell. The first to really be able to reach critical mass in a geographical locale, in terms of downloads, will have created a mobile distribution channel worth something. Until we have some proof that Nokia or perhaps even the upcoming Google Android OS will give LBS developers out there something to work with that takes the pain associated with porting across multiple mobile platforms away, he who sells / promotes theirs the hardest could just prevail.

A platform that I think has a lot of potential and that has been bubbling away for about a year is Che Metcalfe’s Adelaide based podmo.com. Give them a look-see! They’re evolving a free mobile-based communications infrastructure with an interesting twist and their parent company Kukan Studio is a mobile games developer that specialises in porting mobile applications.

Maybe this is a mapmatch made in mapmate heaven?

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