Heres an idea: If you’re looking to build up your social site’s user base, add support for a popular, similarly focused (but not directly competitive) social site to your network’s iPhone application. It may sound crazy (who wants to promote someone else’s brand?), but that’s exactly what Radar, a social network for sharing cameraphone images and videos, is doing. This morning, Radar has released an update to their iPhone application which adds Flickr support to the mix.
Though Radar and Flickr are quite similar in that they’re both intended as repositories for your photographs, their finer focus differs just enough for this idea to work. Flickr is generally used for collections of high resolution images, with the comments area serving as a grounds for conversations that stretch on indefinitely. Radar, on the other hand, is more for spur-of-the-moment, heres-what-I’m-doing-right-now type stuff.
It also helps that free Flickr support on the iPhone is currently mostly unclaimed; searching for “Flickr” on the iPhone returns a handful of Flickr-friendly uploaders, less than half of which are free. Of these free applications, very few have more than 50 reviews. While the number of reviews isn’t an absolute indication of the number of downloads, it’s generally relative. In other words, it doesn’t seem like any of these applications have really taken off. Radar only added Flickr support this morning, yet already shows up in the first page of results for the term (albeit at the very bottom.) Flickr has a rather substantial user base; if Radar manages to become the go-to application for Flickr, they might just pull enough eyes toward their own service to make the endeavor worth while. That said, if Flickr ever gets around to releasing their own official iPhone offering (beyond the m.flickr.com Web App), it would likely take the throne pretty quickly.
Therein lies the flaw of Radar; while the concept is grand, it seems.. replaceable. It’s an entire social service built up around a single idea, and it’s an idea that other social sites can get (and pretty much have already got) up and running quite easily. Facebook’s iPhone app, for example, allows the user to upload mobile photos straight their profiles for sharing and commenting. The same can be said about Twitter, of course – it’s an entire social service build up around a single idea (a similar idea, really – just text, rather than images). But Twitter succeeds in that the format promotes efficient (or at least brief) conversation and open dialog that tends to branch out into many more conversations. Would the conversation flourish as well if pictures were required at the beginning of each?
As a piggyback application for services like Flickr and Twitter, I see it working; as a standalone service, I’m not sure I see the point.
Ah, well – Radar is free and does as advertised. If you’re looking for a solid Flickr uploader, it’s worth checking out. Here’s the iTunes link.