Aussie startup Stalqer helps you find your friends when about

Over the last few weeks I’ve been alpha testing an innovative new iPhone app by an Aussie team led by Mick Johnson, innovating in an exciting space. Leena Rao at TechCrunch has written a brilliant post about the product, with another high quality article on CNET by Rafe Needleman. Both those posts cover more than enough so I won’t rehash, but I will share an interesting concept this product has that’s got me thinking about.

Stalqer has an unique viral dynamic at play. Your friends are on a map, and the technology behind it automatically tracks their whereabouts. The cool thing though, is that the technology can be overcome – for example, if I see one of my friends in a location that I know they aren’t, I can physically drag them to where I think they should be (like where I am now at a bar, as they are sitting next to me). This means that even if you shut off Stalqer, you are forced to have to deal with it if you care about your privacy.

This may sound evil, but it’s all relatively safe and you can control which friends see you. However, the fact other people can determine your location, forces you to interact with the app and at least be active with it.

All too common with web and phone applications, people sign up to them and then move on – often forgetting they had signed up in the first place. But Stalqer’s innovation is that it focuses on something people (claim) matters to them – their privacy – and requires them to stay at least alert of what’s happening if they care to protect it in any way.

It’s a simple concept, but it’s also sheer brilliance in my eyes. Admittedly, I haven’t been too phased by this feature and I still think it needs more work for it to truly be viral (like incorporating game mechanics to give people an incentive to move their friends frequently). But it certainly gives an interesting perspective and highlights a smart approach in creating engagement in this saturated market. That being, aligning peoples incentives to participate even when they get bored of it.

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