January 22, 2009 |
Now that we are deep into the recession it is quite understandable that we don’t see many startups launched, especially those that require huge investment and long time to bring in enough users to begin earning something off the service eventually. But of course there are still web enthusiasts who will always develop some nice little services that will find their users even without too much hype around such tools launched.
Today’s example is Beep Tower – a cute little tool for sharing interesting links with your friends, even if they are not on Twitter, FriendFeed or other favorite communities in the crowd of early adopters. And while I know that everything in the web 2.0 world should be shiny and very feature-rich, I still believe there is enough space for products like this – simple and actually intended to do the job without you evangelizing use of RSS or explaining what Twitter is to your mother.
Beep Tower is here to solve the usual problem of wanting to share a couple of links to something cute or funny you stumble upon online with a dozen or two of friends all at once. Of course there are tools like FriendFeed or StumbleUpon that allow you to easily share links – but only with those of your friends who are also on those services and are connected to you there as well. Unfortunately I have zero real-life friends on any of the services that I myself happen to use on a daily basis and I only communicate with them by email or using IM online – so sharing a link takes shooting an email to every friend or opening a new dialogue in my IM client with this friend. Beep Tower is intended to make life much simpler for me as it allows me to share links with those of my friends who will hardly adopt the latest and greatest web 2.0 tools in the near future.
Once you register for the service, you will be able to create a list of recipients for your links (with simple name and email fields for that but no import of contacts from an address book – hope it will be added in the future). In this manner you can add up to 100 friends you will be able to share links with in the future.
After that you are invited to drag their bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar to make sharing of links actually simple and doable every time you stumble upon something worth sharing. Once you find something interesting, you can select some text on a page (or skip this and have the simple page’s title sent) and choose recipients for the link (everyone will be selected by default and here is where I see group or lists functionality added in the future).
Once a day your links will be aggregated and delivered to all your friends (according to your selection for every link) simply by email. A nice addition is that you will even be able to track statistics for what links actually get opened so that you could see if your friends actually open your links or not and make sure they are actually interested in what you have to share (or not).
Your friends don’t have to be registered with the service to enjoy your generosity when sharing links and this is probably the best part of the service as they simply get what you send by email. Advanced users can choose RSS delivery of your links instead but that will hardly be very much needed for your actually not very tech-savvy friends so email sounds like a solid option for now to me.
What I’d very much want to see (in addition to import of contacts and groups functionality) is ability to configure how I want my friends to receive links from me – for some of my friends it could be email, for others I’d prefer to use an IM protocol, for others yet a better idea would be to send them a direct message on Twitter or an @reply. But of course for now the service only has very basic functionality and will probably be improved and enhanced if the tool’s developer decides it is worth it (which I relly hope he will).
And while Beep Tower may sound way too simplistic for those of us who refresh FriendFeed hundreds of times per day and have Twitter updates delivered to a desktop client to make sure we won’t miss anything, for some people getting interesting links from your friend once a day simply by email in a bulk may be exactly what is needed for complete happiness.
And I actually think there’s nothing wrong with trying to keep your product simple – the simpler it is, the more people will use it. And since I see pretty solid prospects for new features and even monetization (like increasing the maximum number of recipients or embedding photos or videos for friends to see right in their emails as paid-for options), I think the startup could have a great future and I certainly see myself using it as there are some things I happen to bump into when surfing that I would very much want to share with some of my school friends who have never heard about FriendFeed.