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Today, UK location-based networking company Rummble announced it’s launching a version of its real-time, personalized recommendations application for Windows Phone, in addition to Android and iPhone applications.
Rummble is now available on an enormous number of cell phones and can be accessed via the mobile Web as well as SMS, although it’s user base (which numbered 60,000 this summer) is currently mostly in the UK.
The service has been quietly operating for the last year or so. It combines some of the things that make Foursquare and Gowalla great, with some of what people have grown to love about applications like Yelp and Urbanspoon. It combines your friend and social graph with information about what people like and do.
Once you’ve signed up for Rummble — which you can do via Facebook or Twitter (using either of them lets you integrate Rummble into what you already do) — the service tries to figure out who it is that you trust. It taps into your contacts through Gmail, Linkedin, and the like, trying to figure out who you care about.
Once you’ve built a network of friends, Rummble will show you recommendations for particular places and things near you, based on who you trust. Instead of something like Yelp, which just aggregates and shares reviews with everyone, Rummble uses its algorithm to deliver personalized recommendations for where you should go, and what you should do, based on whose opinion you trust. You also review and rate places as you visit them, and Rummble’s recommendations get better for you and for others.
Location-based social networking — finding out what your friends are doing, where they are, and connecting with the world based on what you do and where — is a lot of people’s guess for the next big thing. Foursquare is the current cool kid on the block in the world of social location, but companies like Loopt and Gowalla have been making waves.
Meanwhile, mobile use of social networks is booming. Facebook, for instance, has tripled its mobile usage, to 65 million users, in only the past year. Today, MocoSpace, still the leader in mobile-only social networking (even though Facebook and others, launched after MocoSpace, have rocketed past it), also announced that it has moved past the 10 million user mark for the first time.
Thanks to today’s announcement of an application in the Windows Phone Marketplace, Rummble adds the third most popular phone platform to its repertoire, and opens native Rummble apps to millions more users. Now, anyone with an Android phone, iPhone, or Windows Phone can get a native app, although there’s still the SMS and mobile Web versions for any other phones.
My concern for Rummble is the same as my concern for any other location-based service, and for any other reviews-based application: if no one uses it, it’s useless to me. Without the social aspect of sites like Gowalla and Foursquare, with crowds of people using them actively, there’s very little draw. We’ve talked about this problem before, but it persists.
It’s possible that apps like this will eventually integrate with existing social networks, or perhaps that Facebook or Twitter will create their own location-aware network. Twitter, by allowing users to geo-tag their tweets, is already taking steps in that direction. Rummble, incidentally, can geo-tag tweets you automatically send, making your location available to not only your Rummble friends, but your Twitter followers as well.
All that said, I love the idea of Rummble. Instead of Yelp or Urbanspoon, which give me hundreds of reviews from people I don’t know and whose opinions I don’t care about, Rummble can tell me what people whose opinions I trust think about certain places. I’d rather go to a restaurant on a friend’s recommendation than a website’s any day.
Rummble is a six-employee company based in London.
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