Centralising cloud app notifications might be the next big thing

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The successful launch of Hojoki, a German start-up, goes some way to confirm the view that that creating a central repository for all your cloud notifications is emerging as a new business model.

Let’s say you are working with Dropbox, Google Calendar, Pivotal Tracker, Evernote and Twitter on a project. Where can you have a real time global vision of a team’s activity in the project? Where can you have a “one stop search window” which finds in these numerous cloud applications, the document, the comment, or the modification that you are looking for?

Amongst the start-ups who try to answer these questions, Hojoki, a German start-up, was successfully launched on beta, last Wednesday, at LeWeb11. No doubt that Hojoki raised interests: Fisheye Analytics calculated that their launch was the most retweeted tweet of the day at LeWeb11, and in two days, they got more than 1,000 new users. I spoke to Martin Böhringer, Hojoki CEO, and his objective is to reach a 6 digit number of users by the end of 2012.

Hojoki integrates cloud apps (Google Apps, Dropbox, Github…) into one stream. So you can share your cloud apps activity – or part of it – with whoever you want, and get instantly notified of theirs. As you see what others are doing on the project (eg. they are tweeting something, they are modifying a Google Doc, etc.), you can provide realtime inputs and comments. You can also search in the stream, in order to find a document, comment or modification. The design is great, and the tool looks flexible enough to trigger disruptive usages.

Their business model is a freemium one.

Other start-ups came up recently with the same general idea. In Eastern Europe, 300miligrams (Estonia) was launched this summer, whereas Busyflow (Poland) released its private beta on November 16, and Streamerapp (who attended TechCrunch disrupt SF last September) offers a more business and charts oriented service. In the United States Dispatch (who got
its start
at the TechCrunch Disrupt NYC hackathon) raised $975,000 last month, and Joukuu (winner of Singapore Seedcamp) is expanding rapidly and already has big clients like Paypal.

So there is room for a new business here, but some great challenges have to be overcome.

Howwever, there is a lot of noise in this space. What is the point of knowing that X has modified the date of the meeting, whereas you already have this information which pops up in your browser? Hojoki will soon have a “hide button” (like facebook’s one), but it will not entirely solve the problem. Second, the design: how do you keep the dashboard readable, where you can have new information coming from various clouds apps every second? Design can also be a market differentiating element amongst start-ups. Right now, Hojoki comes up with a timeline, which gives a BtoC gut feeling, whereas Streamerapp seems to have a more BtoB oriented dasboard.

Last but not least, privacy issues and protection of personal data is another great challenge. On this peculiar topic, Hojoki’s servers are based in Germany. Thus, the usage of data collected by Hojoki is ruled by the law, one of the strongest in terms of privacy protection.

This is a guest post by Hélène Huby who is working at faberNovel. faberNovel architects an open and digital future with visionary
organizations. faberNovel combines technology, design and emerging trends to invent new products, services, and experiences.