Is it a fluke that Flook is gaining traction, especially amongst women? Maybe not

Flook, the location-based application from Ambient Industries which has now has a total of £1.65m in funding from Amadeus Capital Partners and Eden Ventures has always puzzled me.

Flook is a location-based service that has a web app and an iPhone app [iTunes link here].. We’ve described it in the past as a StumbleUpon for location-based discovery, and it’s the iPhone app which works best. Users create “cards,” which contain a title, a picture, caption, category, then tag it to a location. Others then find the cards when they fire up the app and you can “collect” the cards in the app or follow the people who created them.

It’s basically a dead-letter box on an iphone.

Which is probably why I dislike it. For me, that’s pretty much all it is. In fact, there are some Flickr apps for the iPhone which do a better job for me and are better looking. In my opinion Flook has a CD-Rom like approach to interface design which grates.

But apparently I’m wrong about Flook. Because, says Ambient, it’s getting a lot of uptake.

And it’s now integrated with and is creating events inside of the application that show up in real time by proximity. So users can see events around them and then act on them.

According to the company in the last seven days it’s added 19,000 new users; 26,000 in last 30 days; and now has over 50,000. That’s not Facebook numbers but it’s respectable. It’s also been been a staff pick twice on the Apple iTunes store. 

It’s also now one of the top downloaded travel apps in the UK and is getting a lots of traction in Asia, says the company.

But the penny dropped for me about flook with this statistic: Most of the users are women – 70/30 in fact. In other words while perhaps men prefer a busy, data-filled app like the Augmented Reality browser Layar, women appear to prefer this cards approach.

And it’s not about check-ins like Foursquare or Gowalla, or location based games like MyTown. Users prefer the ambience of it, in that it’s not about broadcasting where you are, it is about finding things and then going to do those things. When I asked some women friends about that aspect they told me they much preferred this passive content consumption and discovery to the male-oriented “check-in”.

Flook’s key business model here is having deals with content providers like the British Library, Postal Heritage, Reveal King’s Cross.

And a mark that you have traction is clones appearing like and — local + search + directory via photos.

Two of Ambient Industries founders, Roger Nolan and Jane Sales, are perhaps best known for their work at Psion.