Color App Has Surprise Business Potential

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Hold on to your hats, because the next social media revolution has arrived. A startup called Color has raised $41 million in venture capital funding for its blissfully simple location-aware picture sharing service.

Download Color for your iPhone or Android phone equipped with GPS and, once you take a photo using it, it'll be added automatically to a group album along with pics taken by anybody within 150 yards of you. That includes strangers. There's no need to register with Color or do anything, apart from type your first name when prompted. Color doesn't need to raid your Facebook contact list. The whole point is to create new connections.

Privacy is pretty much thrown out of the window, of course, but there's no pretense at anything else. However, assuming Color becomes so popular that everybody uses it, you have to hope that your mother's 80th birthday party doesn't clash with the orgy your neighbors are throwing in the apartment above. That could make for a very interesting Color album.

Albums can be shared on Twitter and Facebook too, although they're actually hosted at the Color website.

Talking of which, the people behind the app have managed to snag the domain, which must have been breathtakingly expensive. However, I'd be surprised if they stick with the name. The rest of the English-speaking world spells color with a U, and there are hundreds of products called Color out there. Trying to search for the company's website via Google was practically impossible when I tried.

In fact, finding out anything about Color is tricky. The people behind it are very sparing with words. They suggest a few uses for the software: "For parties, play dates, lunch?" That implies they see it as a leisure tool, but a little imagination shows how it could be used elsewhere. There have even been suggestions it could be used in a disaster scenario, such as an earthquake, where rescue workers should easily share pictorial information. It could revolutionize news gathering.

However, I can't see why Color couldn't be used in business, too. I've thought up a few scenarios below.

Conferences: If you go to a conference, start snapping away using Color and see if anybody else's picture turns up in the gallery. If they're a stranger but a potential client (zoom in on that "Hi, My Name Is" badge), comment on their pic and start to network. It seems that commenting is how Color assumes there's a relationship between people, by the way. If you don't comment, the pic will eventually disappear.

Use It as a Roll Call: If you couldn't attend the conference but need information about who attended, just take a look at the Color gallery put on Facebook or Twitter by one of your colleagues (or get them to SMS you a link via Color). Viewing the gallery is especially useful if you can't actually get hold of anybody who attended and, of course, you can also provide input on people you recognize within the pictures.

Product Demos: Get snap happy at any product demos you do. Take lots of lovely shots of the products, and even literature. In your talk, invite other Color users to do the same. Then, when the album is created, field questions from attendees about products via the comments they add to the pictures.

Reception: Get the person working the reception desk to take photos via Color of everybody visiting. This will build day-by-day galleries of visitors to your business that you can project onto the wall to make people think you're a trendy, high-tech business. If anybody complains about privacy, just explain that they clearly don't get what it's all about. Then take their photo anyway.

Creating Brochures: Get the CEO to issue an edict that everybody should spend the day taking snapshots via Color of their everyday work. Hey, presto--instantly you'll have more than enough pictures for the next brochure your company puts out about its activities. No need to hire expensive photographers.

Inter-office Hide and Seek: Everybody hides, and then takes a picture from their vantage point. Somebody has to find everybody based on the photographs. "Is that the paper tray of the photocopier near accounts?" Great for team building!

Think of any uses for Color of your own? Please add them to the comments below.

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