Sure is quiet around here. Not very, uh, Colorful?
Even after $41 million and an ungodly amount of press, blog and Twitter coverage, and coverage of that coverage, and analysis of the coverage and revisits to previous coverage, there's still not a lot going on with Color. No one is quite sure what to make of their service, seemingly not even the owners themselves. That's cool, though. They've got a few more dollars to spend and plenty of smart people still punching the clock. And no one is going to forget who they are.
But that doesn't answer the big question; What the heck is Color good for? And why didn't it catch on?
I fired up the app the day it was released and had fun playing around with the basics. I'm fortunate to work in a building surrounded by the entrepreneurial energy that make San Francisco so amazing (residents include SOCAP, Square, Intersection for the Arts, Foursquare, Hub SoMa and others) so I had plenty of people within range of interaction. But a day later and I was done. I started it up occassionaly the days following just in case but I was already over it. And I wasn't the only one. No one was using the app.
But none of this is news. What I'd like to do is tell you about an idea that I think would make Color fun and useful.
I'm confident that real-time, media-driven sharing and collaborating will be a "thing". Call it PolySocial Reality (PDF) or Real-Time Co-Creation. Or The Digitally Mingled Shared-n-Magical Present™. Whatever. As our fancy devices become more powerful and we become more comfortable creating, sharing and interacting, we will naturally begin to reach out into the virtual space and explore transient, non-traditional networks.
TechCrunch writer MG Siegler seems to agree:
"Using the location element baked into all of our smartphones to automatically create implicit networks is something that we’re going to keep seeing startups working on."
The challenge with Color is that it is difficult to truly appreciate what is going on while it's going on. And it's not all that interesting after the fact, either. Meaning, the capture-and-present environment isn't gratifying enough in real time and when it's all over, all you have have is a grid of photos of people you don't know - nor do will you, most likely, have any reason to interact with them. It falls short on both sides of the event or content-creation flashpoint.
However, if all this creative juice was captured, managed/manipulated and re-presented, all these random images might morph into something far cooler. I don't pretend to know the in's-n-out's of API's or backend data spit-swapping but I would think that - while the Color app was running - there would be a way to:
- Choose friends or random people and form a temporary 'Color Cabal'
- Pull out the photos associated with said Cabal (duration, last 2hrs, every hour?)
- Batch and bump pics to a web-based video rending outfit (Animoto)
- Have Animoto smash-n-glimmer pics into a fancy 3-5min video
- Tweet out a link to that video, post to Tumblr, Facebook, etc...
There. Now you've strengthened relationships with your friends or strangers by creating with them and you (and all your friends) have something awesome to gawk at once you get home. "Look at what an awesome time we had at this party!" LOOK! See?
And you can add all sorts of bells and whistles to this thing. Real-time voting between collaborators on the music your finished video will be set to. Allow Sountracking to ID whatever you are hearing while the photos are actually being taken and use that for your video's soundtrack. Different filters, pacing and other aesthetic treatments. Export raw info to something like Pixorial for a more hands-on edit. Hell, a popular bar/nightclub could almost stream "live" coverage to monitors throughout the establishment - not just photos but really bitchin' videos. Lots of things, really.
*UPDATE: 6/29/2011: Animoto just scored a big batch of cash to bolster their position in the mobile space. Maybe they don't need someone like Color.
“It’s very easy for companies around mobile and photos to fall behind,” Jefferson said. “We want to be the [mobile] leader and accelerate development through this period of innovation.”
Personally, my big issue with Color is that I really had nothing fun to show for using it. But if I got something dazzling and pretty posted to my Tumblr - on the fly, without me lifting a finger or giving it a second thought- I'd give it a whirl.