Famster is a Flash based social networking site with a long list of features. Created by Whittier California web design company Ivenue, it’s an attempt to take online social networking mainstream for adults. There’s no clear business model yet and I find the site’s branding a little creepy, but the feature set is staggering and the site is so well designed that it’s likely to win over a lot of people in its target audience.
Features include 1GB of “filing cabinet” storage, 1 GB of encoded video storage, a Famstermail email account with 1 GB of storage, unlimited photo uploads, scrapbook pages, a blog, a simple RSS reader, calendering, to-do list sharing, contacts lists with Yahoo! maps integration, a recipes section with 23,000 preloaded recipes and a place to store your own and several other family oriented features (like family tree mapping).
The company heralds a feature that monitors for registered sex offenders in your geographic area. Famster has pages of links to off-site articles about online safety for children, with titles like “Online Predators: It’s worse than you think.” At least one recent study finds that the risk is actually not as big as you might think and Famster’s pandering to widespread fear is a little off-putting to me. Combine that with the stale name of the site and the annoying hamster buddy icon and the site doesn’t do it for me personally, but whatever.
Web IM, better photo handling across components, mobile blogging, photo and video sharing, SMS support and calendar reminders are all listed as coming soon.
It’s a good thing storage is so cheap these days! Storage space was far more limited until Famster hit the front page of Digg last week and people complained. There are no ads on the site and no premium accounts. This is obviously a site that has had a lot of time put into it. It looks great.
There’s also a visual component where you can create an image of your home and avatars for your family members (think CyWorld minihompies) though the long list of things you can change about your avatars does not include the cheekbones. Without the ability to change cheekbones, everyone ends up looking the same in a creepy sort of way.
Cheek bones or no, the site has a strange mix of features that will likely appeal to early adopters and to family users. Ultimately it’ll be the family users that the company needs to satisfy and they may not need things like permalinks for photo pages. These sorts of services must be a stab in the dark and mystery moves like corporate partnerships could make or break Famster. Just as likely, the company could be hoping to be scooped up by someone larger. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for a large media company seeking a family friendly social networking site to grab Famster. Look out Good Housekeeping, here comes the Famster Hamster.