booyah society

Aug 18, 2009 | Mobile & Web

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First thing first:  I absolutely hate the animated Booyah character.  It reminds me of everything terrible about Clippy, the animated Office Assistant.

But that aside, the Booyah Society is an interesting experiment.  Booyah is basically a life stream iPhone application that allows you to post twitter-like notes to your friends.  For example, you may booyah “A great lunch at Belly Deli” or “Scored some major swag at the Labor Day Sale!” to celebrate small victories of life, and share it with your fellow Booyah users.  These booyahs are classified into categories, such as Food/Dining, Travel, Fitness, Entertainment, Shopping, Work/School, Social, etc.  Booyah encourages users to send these life stream notes by handing out Achievements, which are basically just icons of recognition, and attempt to put life streams into a gaming context where you earn kudos for your booyahs.  I think it is an interesting idea, but I feel the way it’s currently implemented is a bit superficial.  Earning badges are not great rewards in and of itself; I don’t think it’ll do much to change user behavior.  But the idea that life is a game has tremendous development potential, and Booyah should further develop the idea.

The second interesting aspect of Booyah is their recommendation engine for local events, and Booyah alert you to their availability.  Today, for example, Booyah told me about a museum event at the Experience Music Project as well as an iPhoto/iMovie workshop at the local Apple store.  The serendipitous nature of these alerts are interesting, particularly for events with a niche appeal and lower general awareness.  I’m not entirely clear how Booyah finds and aggregates these events, nor is it clear why they chose these events for me; however, I think if they can build a good recommendation engine and tailor such alerts based on the types of events that users booyah about, it’d be a very interesting innovation in turning the life streaming on its head, and build commercial advertising opportunities for the life streams.

My biggest issue with Booyah is that it’s yet another life stream service, and at least for me it’s not worth adopting.  I already tweet, I already sync my tweets to Facebook, and I just don’t see myself adopting Booyah in my daily routine.  If Booyah’s experiments succeed, FB and Twitter will just adopt the Booyah model and squish it out of the market.  For Booyah’s and their investors’ sake, I hope they have some defensive strategy, such as IP protection, against the bigger services intruding into their turf, or at least is able to go viral and build themselves a sizable user base, all before the competitors show up and muscle them out.

I think a far more likely scenario is that Booyah’s experiments will proved to be ahead of its time, and will not find much user traction and will go gently into the good night.  Twitter and Facebook is going to come back and visit this model in a couple of years and will probably find a much more receptive audience, vindicating the vision but alas too late for Booyah.

This is the kind of stories that has played out a thousand times in the tech industry, where innovation is still worshipped and respected.  The road to true market success is often paved with dead bodies of early innovators, and I can’t help but think that this may well be the fate awaiting Booyah.


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