06th Mar 2012
Do we really need another social network? While several social networking services failed to make the desired impact, the eco-system is still up and running. With services such as Twitter and Facebook still going strong, more names are trying to create a mark for themselves in the arena. After text and video, it's the turn for voice-based services to enter the ring. Bubble Motion's latest flagship service named Bubbly, described as "Twitter with a voice", is one such example. With the iPhone app launched recently, we caught up with the company's CEO Thomas Clayton to understand how this app works, what its scope is, and whether we truly require yet another social network to stay connected.
The service seems to be placed somewhere between Twitter and Youtube. Historically, people seem to prefer a more audio-visual medium rather than just a voice-based service. How do you expect it to compete with major players?
We are not really competing against these guys; the service is actually more complementary. Therefore, every time I post a bubble, it will directly enter my Twitter feed, and every time I tweet, it will appear in my Bubbly feed. It is all deeply integrated and is definitely very similar to Twitter except that the medium is audio instead of text.
Your website depicts that Motion Bubble is more of a VAS. Would such services continue?
We have tied up with a few telecom service providers, but now that has changed. We need to change the positioning on the website.
Will Bubbly be available for the desktop platform soon, or will it be limited to smartphones only?
For now it's on mobile phones; both feature phone and smartphone. You get a visual interface with smartphones and the nature of audio in general is more apt for mobiles than desktops. Hence, when you are listening to audio clips or generally networking, you are typically travelling. When you are recording, you're definitely not going to sit in front of a computer, you are most likely going to be out moving or stuck in traffic. We will always have a web presence, but most of our content will be produced and consumed off mobile phones.
Are these bubbles time bound like in case of tweets, or would it also double up as an audio-blogging platform?
We are predominantly focusing on microblogging, we don't focus on long rants or raves, although some of the celebs like to talk, so we had to increase the duration from 30 seconds to 90 seconds and that is a lot of information.
The apps' layout is very similar to Twitter, any fear of it being called a rip off?
Most social networking apps usually follow a similar layout. We took the UI from different areas and Twitter wasn't even on that list.
Like Twitter, do you have a mechanism to verify celebrity accounts?
We go to the celebs directly. For example, we will meet up with Mr. Bachchan and say "hi Mr Amitabh Bachchan, would you like to use our service and give us your code". Right now it's safe because it's not a scalable model and we personally go out and do that.
Considering that the app launched recently, how many registered Indian users does the service have at present?
The service launched about a year and a half ago. There are about 15 million users in total, in which about nine million are Indians.
How successful has the service been so far? What kind of feedback have you received from users?
The feedback in general seems positive, but the numbers speak for themselves; we have millions of retrievals and posts every month. The activity level is very high and it is growing every single month. If it was a bad service people wouldn't stay.
What kind of user base do you expect in the coming months in India?
Consumer service is more of a viral boost, so we depend more on word of mouth. Therefore, going by the current rate, we will surely double in the next year. We don't have targets; we just want more and more users to use the service.
There is a lot of talk about internet censorship and copyright issues making the rounds. Does being a vocal service make it vulnerable to such restrictions?
We are open to all kinds of content. One of our famous bloggers is Anna Hazare, who was blogging from his hospital bed. What we have here, is have another medium to reach out to the world. We are also launching services in almost every major country except China, for obvious reasons.
Don't you worry about copyrighted content making way into the service?
The content is end-user moderated, so if somebody flags any content, then it will be taken care of. Considering the volume of data that comes in, it's not possible to keep a check, hence we prefer to follow this model.
Interview: Thomas Clayton, Bubble Motion | TechTree.com
Interview: Thomas Clayton, Bubble Motion
We chat about how voice microblogging could change the social networking scene.
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