Ping.fm, a fairly new service that lets you update your status on several social networks at once, has signed a deal with the UK’s Spinvox whereby you can now update your status via a voice call. Ping.fm works on Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku, Pownce, LiveJournal, Tumblr, MySpace, Bebo and Friendster. It’s not unlike Socialthing, another an activity aggregator. There is also HelloTxt which has been around since September 2007 and also has a mobile version.
But there’s a slight problem. Facebook has plans to allow you to update your status on other socnets, which would potentially kill Ping.fm and others like it for at least a large part of the market (though not all of course).
That makes Ping.fm a feature, and the fact that Ping.fm is a project started by two guys in their spare time says a lot. So is this new Spinvox add-on of any real value? Does it make sense to call a number and suddenly update 30 social networks at once with “I’m on the train, looks like I’ll be late for that meeting” or similar?
Christina Domecq, SpinVox co-founder and CEO says “Bloggers and other active social networkers are tired of being stuck in front of their computer screens, updating network after network to stay in touch with their friends.” But that doesn’t make sense to me – those guys are the mavens of this business – they actually love text input and, in my experience, can’t stand having to call people. They will even hunt and peck on a terrible iPhone keyboard and download the Twitterific iPhone app to avoid calling people.
And as many have found, the real power of Twitter comes in turning it into a sort of ‘cloud conversation’. If I used Ping.fm to have one single, blasted-out conversation across all socnets that would pretty much destroy my network. And annoy my friends/followers. Adding voice just confuses that.
And unfortunately SpinVox’s “sexiest” service is not its integration with social networks, but it’s voice to SMS service, which remains an utterly indispensible, though paid-for, add-on to your mobile. I can see Spinvox’s desire to extend the service into socnets, but it is a mere incremental add-on to the existing service. This is a bit of extra code, nothing more. But at least it makes for a smart distribution ploy – this is very cheap viral marketing.
In fact, there’s going to be more interesting ways for Spinvox to extend its platform and really this isn’t the killer one. For me it’s still voice to text or voice to email, or perhaps even voice to IM, which is going to be the best route. And there may even be ad-models to be wrapped around this because Spinvox’s technology is smart enough to understand the content of the messages, making ad-targeting a plausible scenario.