Qbix is starting this new year with some exciting news. A few days ago we passed 1 million downloads!
Since we first launched, we’ve always been confident to openly display our stats right on our website. Here are some highlights that we are proud of, though:
- About 1 in every 5 people decided to keep our apps.
- That’s about 220,000 monthly users, of which 40,000 are using them every day.
- Both Groups and Calendar have a star rating.
Besides the above, we also launched our first paid app, Calendar Plus, to help people see everything that’s happening in their lives, in one place — whether it’s google calendars or facebook events, birthdays, or the weather. Looks like it got some good reviews.
Where this is all headed
Many startups begin with big dreams of changing the world, through new technology. They build and launch their MVP. Then their big challenge becomes finding product-market fit and getting traction. This is where the winners are made.
Over the last two years, we were lucky to find real demand our first products, and built a loyal and enthusiastic userbase. But this was only the tip of the iceberg. Many of you who have been following us know that we had much more in the works. Even as we worked on them for the last two years, we didn’t reveal our bigger plans publicly — until now.
The previous generation
Two years ago, before GroupMe and WhatsApp and Voxer and Google+, we realized that there was something major missing on the internet. Sure, people were spending all these massive amounts of time on their computers sharing pictures and videos with each other. But as they spent more and more of their lives sharing online, their real lives did not get any easier or more fulfilling.
There were many reasons for this, but most had to do with the design and business models of the original social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, for example, is proud of being the site you spend most of your time on, but penalizes you for friending people that you might want to meet in real life.
The mobile generation
Mobile smartphones changed the game, starting with the iPhone. People are now able to have rich interactions with others anywhere. But to truly improve people’s lives, we have to move beyond “sharing stuff online”.
People need a better a way to coordinate and plan things in the real world. Tools that are able to help people do this will lead to organic business models around mobile, where marketplaces make money when actual transactions are made and everyone wins. That is where mobile’s untapped trillion-dollar potential lies.
Qbix actually began with a big vision. We believe in the power of everyday communication tools to shape how groups of people collaborate. We set out to build tools that helped people naturally connect, form groups, and coordinate their activities. These tools would empower communities to get things done. There was a lot to do, and if we got this right, we would change the world.
Our goal for this year is to combine the Groups and Calendar apps into a social calendar, where people can spontaneously organize activities, plans can come together organically, and groups can make reservations at local businesses.
Technology and business model
Over the last two years, you saw Groups and Calendar go from launch to getting a million downloads. Behind the scenes, a large part of our team was busy building the Q platform, an ambitious new technology you’ll hear a lot more about in the months to come.
Building a mobile platform for real world collaboration presents real opportunities for innovation. Our work to improve the current user experience has led us to focus on several key directions:
- Less Pull, More Push.
Many people incessantly feel the need to check their phone to see if there were any updates. This takes away from their real life and the people they’re with. Instead, people should be able set up subscriptions and filters for what they are interested in, and the service should notify them when something very relevant happens.
If we get this right, the phone will stop being a distraction. A person should normally only want to reach for their phone if something in their real life prompts them to check out something specific, or because they are bored.
- Less Sharing, More Planning.
So much of what we do online seems to consume our time and energy, a bit like the machines in the Matrix. Sharing your life online is possible to do after you’ve already lived it in the real world. But a different kind of interaction with technology takes place before you head out. This is when you can make plans with other people and reserve various venues and services. Lots of social apps have made sharing a very engaging experience, but there is still a lot of opportunity to make planning real world activities an effective exercise.
If we get this right, every minute people spend online will help lead to hours of activity in the real world, rather than the other way around. People view planning as a means to a definite end, such as having dinner, or learning a new instrument.
- Less Ads, More Deals.
As I write this, the price of advertising online is falling. More and more ads are being shown on mobile devices, but they are less likely to lead to a purchase and thus cheaper. Big tech companies like Facebook and Google are trying to “crack the mobile problem.” The problem is in the psychology of ads: they feel like they want something from us.
On the other hand, people will be using the mobile phones to spend money in more and more ways. And what we really want is get a good deal on something. What’s more, we’d be more than willing to earn rewards for taking meaningful actions that help the business. Things such as writing a review for others, or getting a group together for a social activity.
If we get this right, businesses will come up with creative and useful ways for their customers to help them generate a good deal for themselves and their friends. Both sides will benefit from the deal, and will gladly pay the app for brokering it.
It looks like 2013 will be a breakout year for Qbix. We plan to roll out the above platform to our users, one step at a time. In time, the entire vision will come together and become clear to everyone.
If you’d like to know more, subscribe to our blog. I will be writing in much more detail about the technical and user experience issues as we go along. Until then, take a look at this infographic, constructed by InsightsNow for AOL and BBDO, which shows how people are using their mobile phones today.