“Ambient Location” Didn’t Work, So Business Networking App Intro Pivots To Mobile Group Management

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Apps, Mobile, Social, Startup, Technology
Tags: , , , , , ,

20130507-211308.jpg. It’s fair to say that the “ambient location” craze has
passed. Several of the mobile apps intent on
connecting people with friends and other
recommended users nearby are still struggling to find
mainstream adoption. Some, like Glancee and
Glassmap have sold. Others, like Kismet, have moved into new product categories. And today, the
business-focused networking app Intro, is pivoting. Gone are the “ambient location” features which once
alerted you to nearby users based on things like
geotagged tweets or check-ins. With the new version,
the company has shifted the focus solely to making
one-to-one introductions between members of
LinkedIn or Meetup groups. Explains co-founder Anthony Erwin, the decision to
make this switch came from observations of user
behavior. The best and most powerful introductions
the app enabled were those where the members were
each in the same group already. 90 percent of the
time when an intro was created and members would connect, they cited being in the same group as the
reason, he says. “I think what’s happened in this space, is because it’s
dealing with connecting strangers – people are kind of
wary of that,” says Erwin. “If you’re going to create
connections that work, they’re going to have to be
very familiar; almost not like strangers, in a way.” Users told him that when they were shown other
group members, those people didn’t feel like random
strangers. Intro has always been more sensitive to the
potentially creepy nature of ambient location apps,
having previously introduced features that would allow
users to switch of networking with those not outside
of a set of preferred groups, for instance. The
revamped version of the app is something of an extension of that earlier concept more than it is a hard
pivot to an entirely new vertical. In the updated application, available now on iOS and
for Android in a few weeks time (currently the Android
app is the older version of Intro), you’ll still be shown
other group members who are nearby, but now the
app take a wider view of your location. It begins by
offering you connections across your city, as opposed to at your exact location. You can then
quickly swipe through the suggestions to connect or
reject the proposed connections. However, when there is an event or other
congregation of members in the same location, the
app’s algorithm will immediately adjust to sort its
recommendations by degrees of separation and other
signals which would indicate closer ties with that
user. These same signals come into play any time you’re sorting through connections, but they’re even
more critical when there’s a crowd. In addition to finding users who are in your same
LinkedIn and Meetup groups, the updated service
also now lets group administrators import their
member list to Intro, then use an online web
dashboard to view demographic data or to create and
send out messages and alerts to users, such as meeting details. Recipients can then add these event
reminders to their iOS calendar. During testing and in the past few days when the app
quietly relaunched, hundreds of group admins have
claimed their groups on the app, and thousands of
their members have begun networking. Groups where
the admin has taken control include the NY Tech
Meetup group, Founders Network, the Lean Six Sigma group, Soho House, the Silicon Roundabout
group, the U.S. Realtors Association, the
Pharmaceutical Association of America, a Red Cross
group for frontline aid workers, and others. Groups are free for members and admins of those
with up to 100 members. Afterwards, pricing ranges
from $10/month to $100/month, depending on the
number of members. Around 30 percent of the group
admins are now paying users, and the average price
falls around $49/month. The updated Intro app is available here in the iTunes
App Store. The Android version will be updated soon.

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