From the category archives:

mobile apps

About six weeks ago, I announced I was working closely with Austin-based Appconomy, a mobile apps startup. The relationship was unique for me because it was structured to be an ongoing relationship. Most of my client relationships are project-based, so in my view, this one was different and special. It still is, despite a month of significant changes.

Let me explain.

I joined to help draw attention to a promising piece of beta software called Grouped{in},  a  social network designed for mobile platforms. Grouped{in} hit very close to my heart on a single feature: it allowed you to socially interact with friends, colleagues or customers privately.

I’m big on the idea of being social in private. The places where I had previously hoped to do that either grew to a point where intimacy and confidentiality became nearly impossible. In the case of market-leader Facebook, we had a category leader who has been audaciously contemptuous of user privacy and data ownership rights.

Now beating Facebook is a daunting task. I wasn’t overly confident that little Appconomy could do that. But I felt that the privacy issue alone would equip us to poke the elephant in the eye and by so doing, give users a fresh option and Facebook a very sore eye.

Then one day, we all woke up and there was Google+.

Candidly, G+ as people call it, is the most promising social network I have ever seen. It is structured on circles of people you know. It warns you to be prudent in where you share information from your circles.  It is easy to use and inclusive of long-and-short text, audio, video, chat and video chat. It is free and will probably remain so.

The privacy elements are not bulletproof. I am not yet clear on who owns G+ data. But I do know this: I trust Google with my stuff far more than I do Facebook.

On the other side of it, Google is in a far better position to compete against Facebook, than is tiny Appconomy. And then it has an additional asset: G+ is fun. Lots of fun and more addictive than sling-shotting angry birds.

Brian Magierski, Appconomy co-founder agreed with me about G+. In fact, he got there first and invited me to join in, as he did with the remainder of the Appconomy team.

It took us at Appconomy a short time to decide to opt out of competing with Google+.

From my perspective, it’s absolutely the right strategic move and I applaud the calm logic the used to arrive at it.  On a personal level, I greatly enjoyed getting compensated to tell people why Facebook should not be trusted and that reasonable alternatives will make the Internet a safer, happier place.

Grouped{in} will not be actively marketed into the end-user social networking space, but will indeed live on, and if things go according to plan, it may end up being enjoyed by many million users.

Grouped{in} was the first test of a talented and growing development team. They passed very well. Now they will shift to Appconomy’s core focus: develop a worldwide, world-class mobile applications platform–thus the name Appconomy [for the 'applications economy.'].

Our focus will be China more than the US. It is too early for me to share details, but deals have been made. Partnerships were secured. Formidable roadblocks often placed before American companies in China have been removed.

Appconomy will soon be providing a mobile apps platform for western developers hoping to get into the lucrative and burgeoning China mobile apps market.

I have never seen a company adjust course so quickly and so unanimously. Prior to this decision, we were caught at a crossroad between the social network product and the development platform. Now, we are all looking in the same direction and sharing a single vision and it looks very promising–at least from where I sit.

The Web Economy is huge and interesting and I am pretty certain I’m riding with a winning team.