For as long as you’ve been carrying around a cellphone, you’ve been carrying around a social network in your pocket. And it’s your most important social network. But you probably don’t realize it. Your address book.
For years, you didn’t realize it because the original cellphones pre-dated the online social movement and there was no way that carriers or OEMs were going to come up with those concepts on their own. Then smartphones came around, but everyone was still unable to put two and two together. Even when the iPhone launched, Apple clearly didn’t understand the potential power of your contact list connected to the network.
The phone address book concept has simply moved from device to device to device being totally under utilized along the way. The fact that we still refer to it as an “address book” is even silly. That’s why Everyme excites me.
The new startup, which CrunchFund is backing, aims to replace your address book with an always-connected one. It’s one you don’t have to update, because your contacts update it for you when they change their information on existing social networks. It’s one that provides you with relevant information about the people you really care about.
I still don’t buy the Google+ Circles feature. I mean, I get the concept, but I just don’t think it will work in practice because it requires you to do something that no one wants to do: manage lists. Facebook Smart Lists are much better, but still far from perfect because they’re too automated.
Everyme creates a social network out of a list that most people already curate: the phone address book. If you’re close to someone, they’re probably in there. If they’re not, are you really that close?
Sure, there are exceptions. And it won’t be perfect for all use cases. But generally speaking, the people in your phone contact list are the ones you call, text, email, etc, most often. That’s a key signal that has gone largely untapped.
Google has tried to do some unification of this space (and Everyme will work with Google Contacts) and Apple has started adding social fields to their Contacts app (Everyme will sync with this). Facebook is the most compelling player here simply because of the contact data they already have amongst their 700 million+ active users. But their contacts area on mobile still more or less sucks.
And then there’s Plaxo. Everyone knows Plaxo as the company that tried to re-invent the address book for the Internet age. It was the right idea and to some degree, it worked. But the company was conceived before the rise of smartphones. It’s a different world now, and this address book has even more potential power because of it.
Just over a year ago, I wrote the following on TechCrunch:
The term “social network” is of course synonymous with online networks like Facebook. But think about what you’re actual social life is like for a second. Are you really closest to the people whose items you “like” the most on Facebook? What about the people you @reply or retweet on Twitter? The people you reblog the most on Tumblr? If you’re anything like me, probably not. Instead, the best indicator of who I actually interact with socially the most in real life are the calls I make and the texts I send — it’s all mobile interaction.
But imagine if Apple built social tools right into your Contacts app? Maybe it would start with short status updates (maybe this would even pull in tweets), and then it would move to something like instant messaging. Then imagine if they did something with location? All of this would be opt-in, of course, but it could be very powerful.
Everyme went out and built that product. Leena gave a preview of a bit more today for TechCrunch. The app (iOS at first) is set to launch next month. For now, you can reserve your name on their website.