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Color Application Review - Week 1 of 4

Posted by C.S. Hsia on · Comments

Unless you lived under a rock, or behind the Great Firewall of China without VPN, I'm sure you've heard of Color, the app for iPhone and Android.

In fact, Color is probably the most hyped technology start-up in the Web 2.0 era. Founded by Bill Nguyen, who famously sold his music service Lala to Apple for a rumored $80 million, this project has a high profile leader. Then add $41 Million dollars of Venture Capital Money from Sequoia, Bain, and Sillicon Valley Bank, and people start buzzing. This is an obscene amount of money, more than these VC's gave Google!

How much did this logo cost?

What app could possibly cost $41 Million, you ask? Apparently, one worthy of a high priced domain name. Instead of following modern day start-up tradition of finding an unclaimed URL that resembles a word, these guys dropped over $400,000 to buy www.color.com and www.colour.com. Insanity!

I've always been a firm believer in "UPOD" - Under Promise, Over Deliver. In the case of Color, they're promising the world. From their press release, there are some seriously grand statements. Apparently Color is a "miraculous" app, and "Just as the iPhone changed everything about mobile phones, so Color will transform the way people communicate with each other".

They got the buzz, and now there are tens of thousands of people bewildered by what this is supposed to do. The application is over simplistic, and doesn't provide ANY instruction regarding what it's supposed to do except for "take pictures". Buttons have no labels, pages have no titles.

I'm guessing that the App was perhaps designed this way to showcase their supposed complex algorithm, which I heard uses the colors of the images to do some complex social matching/sharing/networking via photos. Problem is, at the moment there're not enough users with the App for the algorithm to do anything, and as a result people are just plain confused. The app store reviews share my sentiment.

Double tap home button, kill application.

However, I decided to not delete the app.... yet. For the next 4 weeks, we'll review the Color application in both New York and Hong Kong, two of the most populated cities in the world, with a solid concentration of iOS devices. I'll update the blog here with my latest findings.

As an application maker myself, there's no way this app, at least the front end of it, cost $40 million. A chunk of the money must have gone to some, in their own words, miraculous algorithm. They've over promised, and now we simply wait for them to deliver.

Week 1 Review of Color:
Good: Nice URL, that's about it.
Bad: Confusing interface, no users (no network effect). Camera takes forever to open. The algorithm remains to be seen.