Good things come in threes. Today, a third TechCrunch Disrupt alumni – in this case, Gyft – is launching on Android. Its debut follows news from earlier this morning which saw two other former participants, the Siri-like Maluuba app and Vocre’s translation app, also arriving on Google’s mobile platform.
For those unfamiliar, Gyft’s application allows you to purchase, store and share plastic gift cards on your smartphone. The company isn’t about re-inventing mobile gifting, the way that startups like Giftly and Wrapp are, to be clear – it’s actually about bringing the current plastic gift card industry to mobile. To do so, it works with hundreds of retailers, including big names like Brookstone, Lowe’s, Toys “R” Us, Sephora, Nike, Gap, Sears, Gamestop, Target, Amazon and more. Around 200 of Gyft’s some 300+ retailers also support deeper integration with their own systems, allowing users to check their gift card balances from Gyft’s app as well.
The company kicked off its holiday push last month, introducing a re-gifting option which allows you to send your own unused cards to friends and family, as well as various promotions and giveaways. It also recently integrated with Apple’s Passbook.
Today’s Android launch doesn’t include any new features, but it is making some of Gyft’s marketing dollars available to Android users in the form of a free $10 gift card for new users. The company has secured over $5 million worth of free gift cards this holiday season from its retailer partners and is now sharing those cards with consumers. Throughout the holidays, promotions ranging from $5 to $250 are being made available in Gyft.
Retailers’ interest in this app has to do with increasing foot traffic to their stores during this busy shopping season, of course, but more generally, Gyft also offers them a platform to reach out to and encourage current gift card holders to come in and spend their card balances. Despite popular opinion, retailers don’t actually want gift cards to remain dormant – thanks to a 2010 law, they can’t book gift card sales as revenue until after a purchase.
The new Gyft application is live now in Google Play.
Note that a couple of early reviews of the app indicate users have experienced issues with the app, including forced closes and black screens. However, in my tests (logging in with Facebook), I couldn’t duplicate these problems on my Nexus S test device running Android 4.1.2, so these don’t appear to be universal issues.