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UberMedia CEO Bill Gross isn’t dodging the fact that his latest app, Chime.in, is a patchwork of other successful apps.
“It’s an amalgam of blogging and Reddit and Facebook — there’s aspects of each in there,” he told VentureBeat in a phone interview last week.
“We’re definitely borrowing those good ideas. But this is a deeper dive into their interests and intelligent conversations around [users'] passions.”
The Chime.in site will launch tomorrow, but the app is available now in the iTunes App Store.
As Gross mentioned, it has a lot in common with other social media tools. It gives users and brand-oriented publishers a public, online forum for sharing text and picture updates, just like Twitter. You can also share videos and polls, just like on Facebook.
Posts themselves can be upvoted to surface interesting and relevant content, and each post has a comment section with threading and upvoting, just like Reddit and Digg. And like you would on those two sites, you follow topics and interests more than people on Chime.in, and you can sort items by topic, by popularity (upvotes) or by freshness.
But Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Digg already exist. Why would anyone want to create yet another online identity for sharing and reading similar information? In other words, does Chime.in have a truly compelling mechanism for user acquisition?
“The way we get new users is through the interests and how those are related to the publishers we’re inviting to the platform,” Gross told us. “We’re in Los Angeles, so we have a lot of entertainment properties interested.” So far, the list of initial partners includes E! Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Bravo TV and Disney.
UberMedia is based in Pasadena, CA. The company is responsible for Twitter clients Twidroyd and Uber Twitter. However, with Twitter increasing its focus on the consumer experience, the long-term viability of pure-play Twitter clients is in question.
Gross said his company will continue to have “a Twitter apps division that’s focused on those. And separately, we have this new division to focus on the Chime.in platform.”
“I don’t think they will drop their audiences elsewhere,” said Gross. But he sounded confident that publishers and brands would want to invest the time and effort in creating new audiences on Chime.in.
“On Twitter, you have to get people to follow a link to another page … The brands we’re talking to are frustrated that they don’t have the real estate to do what they want to do.”
In the end, the biggest difference between Chime.in and all the rest, says Gross, is the fact that the app has a built-in money making mechanism. Users can choose to run content-related ads on their pages and split revenue with UberMedia starting in 2012.
As a bid to save UberMedia from obsolescence once Twitter’s domination over the consumer experience is complete, we’d say Chime.in falls a bit short. It borrows a lot and innovates mighty little.
But if a powerhouse like Bill Gross (a lifelong entrepreneur who heads up the Idealab incubator and founded Picasa and Overture, among other companies) is willing to put himself behind the idea, we’ll wait and see just what brands bring to the table and just how enticing that is to the all-important end users.
Here are some mockups of the site sent to us by UberMedia:
Image courtesy of thecolourmill.
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