Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kiboze - IM buddylist powers group messaging

Kiboze has launched a new service that unleashes the potential of the IM buddylist. The service enables users to use their buddylists to create and manage group text circles. The user can then text these circles from their mobile and the message will be intelligently delivered to the recipient on either IM or via SMS (if the B-party isn't online). With 80% of people between the ages of 14-29 in the US owning a mobile phone and the majority of them using text messaging to communicate with peers, the opportunity is huge.
I asked founder Jay Cody a few questions...

abigidea?: Can you sum up in one paragraph what Kiboze is all about?
Jay: Kiboze extends IM with group text messaging. This integration allows us to let people connect to their friends through text messaging but using the many relationships we have already defined in our "buddylists". To date the buddylist has been held ransom by the Instant Messaging platforms. Kiboze wants to free the buddylist and make it available as a phone book for group text messaging reaching our friends no matter where they are. Kiboze users simply send one text message to Kiboze and we'll pass that message onto their friends. If those friends are in front of a computer, the message will be sent via IM, if they are out and about they'll get the message via a text message. Set the buddylist free!

abigidea?: Does Kiboze enable the reply-to-all functionality that SMS is currently missing?
Jay: Yes, anyone can use Kiboze to create and join "groups". Now all people have to do is send a single text message to Kiboze and Kiboze delivers that message to everyone in the group. This obviously saves users money and the aggravation of trying to coordinate so many people.

abigidea?: Who pays?
Jay: Kiboze is a totally free service.

abigidea?: If the user isn't Kiboze registered, then you say the message is delivered via IM. Doesn't this miss the point of it being a "mobile" service?
Jay: The point isn't about being a mobile service; Kiboze wants to be a valuable service that allows our users to reach ALL of their friends, regardless of communication channel. Kiboze will get your message to your friends whether they are in front of the computer or out and about with a mobile phone and whether they are registered at Kiboze or not. This is totally unique and of tremendous value to our users. Finally, one text to reach them all.

abigidea?: Do you plan to incorporate support for Skype?
Skype is on the roadmap with many, many other exciting enhancements to the Kiboze service.

abigidea?: what's the Beta telling you?
We are in the early phases but the excitement is definitely there. A couple things have really frustrated users before Kiboze:1) Telco's refusing to create a viable alternative for group text messaging2) "Closed" mobile services that make your re-connect with your friends all over again before you can use the service. We already manage our friends in social networks like MySpace and Facebook, IM networks like AIM, MSN, and Yahoo! as well as Email accounts and mobile phones. It's exhausting and the users are starting to revolt!. New services that are asking us to re-connect yet again are really paying the price.People love Kiboze because they can use their EXISTING contacts as defined in the buddylists and reach them from anywhere with a simple text message. That has definitely been a highlight of the beta so far.

abigidea?: What's juicy on the roadmap?
Without getting into too many details, lets just say that more and more location-based services should be available soon. It really is all about local knowledge. That knowledge might be where your friends are or what events are happening nearby. Location will continue to be a major point of focus at Kiboze.

abigidea?: What your current funding status?
We are a small but dedicated team that has successfully self-funded Kiboze to date.

abigidea?: Who's behind Kiboze?
Jay: Kiboze has a great mix of people. We share a passion for technology and specifically mobile applications but our backgrounds are quite diverse. Some of us have developed, marketed and sold advertising and editorial systems to some of the world's largest media companies like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Some have specialized in search technologies and others in satellite communications. It's a great mix of talent that has come together to make Kiboze a totally unique and valuable service.

Kiboze currently supports AOL, MSN, Yahoo! and GTalk.

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