SXSWi’s Darling App: Can Yobongo Do It?

TechCrunch posted an intersting article today regarding a new startup called Yobongo. In a few words, Yobongo is a group messaging app that allows you to stay up to date with a group of folks while on the go. Think of the power of text messaging, but with a group of folks in the same area.

I went to SXSWi last year (my first episode of the Austin super networking festival) and I was completely reliant on my mobile – using a mix of text messaging, Twitter and Facebook, I was able to meet up with friends no matter where they were in Austin. Yobongo attempts to do the same, but all inside a hopefully addictive application.

There are other apps that do this including GroupMe and Beluga (as the Techcrunch article points out), but Yobongo hopes to stand out in March come SXSW.  For me, I see a few factors stacked against Yobongo including:

  • As of now, it’s iPhone only. At SXSW and other technical conferences, they *used* to be iPhone dominated, in 2008 and even 2009.  But in the last two years, I’m seeing MANY Android handsets and even BlackBerrys (and a few Palm devices here and there). Being iPhone only will automatically limit the audience for any app trying to make a dent amongst the mobile SXSW-ers.
  • They’re fighting the incumbents. We already have apps such as Foursquare, Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook and plain SMS (text messaging for those in North America) to find out where our friends are and what they’re doing – can Yobongo stand out enough?
  • Yobongo isn’t innovative enough. Um, watch the video below…yeah, the app is interesting- but it’s not intriguing enough to alter the existing applications and behaviors surrounding then that are listed above.

I can’t wait for SXSW Interactive – it’s coming up in just a few weeks. To test out every app possible, I’ll bring my Android handset, BlackBerry device and even my iPod Touch to test out iOS apps…I have an open mind and can’t wait to see what apps rise to the top in the 4 day festival.

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