By now all the different Fon Labs experimental products have been used by over a million people and all this work is mostly done by Victor and Albert Martin and myself with help with the rest of the Fon team (around 40 developers who we prefer that stay focused building the largest WiFi community in the world!). Many readers of my English and Spanish blogs have asked me why would Fon fund such a lab and how does this help Fon grow and make money. My answer is twofold. The first one is that I believe that what matters most in tech businesses is to experiment, and then sometimes money follows. Generally if you experiment hard enough and with smart enough people….money always follows. Secondly even if money does not directly follow on Fon Labs products these services promote Fon and that has value to Fon as a global brand as well. For example when we improved upon TinyURL by creating Fon.gs or Fon gets simple which is like TinyURL but you get to choose exactly what you want that TinyURL to be (for example www.fon.gs/empirestate) then all URLS say Fon and we get promoted while providing a service more memorable than TinyURL. Cause tinyurl is great but who cares if http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinvars/2237775222/ this long URL becomes http://tinyurl.com/ysvrjh. I can´t remember ysvrjh. Instead for me it´s easier if it becomes www.fon.gs/menorcatalk cause at least I know that that link takes me to a picture of the Menorca Talk. And that´s just one example. At Fon Labs we have also made a lot of improvements to Gmail. We made possible to send old emails from other email systems to Gmail with the Fon Uploader We made it possible to store spreadsheets, pictures, songs, word files and all sorts of files in Gmail with Gspace a tool used by half a million people and we even created Fonbackup a way to back up entire folders again using Gmail as the storage platform. And we keep coming with useful stuff. We have UnfoldingNews which is a search engine for news as they unfold. For example now that we just launched Twitxr I will follow it in unfolding news. Last week we launched Webhotornot which we just renamed Okorko (thanks for the reader who recommended the name change). Okorko is new website that acts as a start up discovery platform in which users vote if a new web site is OK or KO (dead) and we got over 60K people using it already. It all started as a practical joke on Hotornot fooling around with my friend David Sifry and now it has over 170K votes.
And how do we work at Fonlabs? Well somebody has an idea and we either kill it or go on with it. And now we are launching Twitxr, a collaborative project of Victor, Albert, myself and Pietro Saccomani and soon….you.
What happened with Twitxr is that we were looking at Twitter and… we all love Twitter. But the problem Twitter has for Fon is that Fon loves bandwidth intensive apps. We love them because WiFi is all about heavy bandwidth use. WiFi shows best for movies, TV, games, music, pictures. GPRS or EDGE for example work well with text and Twitter is text so why would you really need Fon to Twit? So we came up with a more bandwidth intensive twit and we called it to TWITX and we called the site Twitxr. We hope you like it.
Twitxr is like Twitter but with pictures and geolocalization. The idea is very simple, you take a picture with your iPhone or other device, you write something related to the picture and this picture gets posted on the Twitxr site where you have your followers. So your followers in Twitxr can get just text (but for that you´d better just use Twitter) or text with a picture and geolocalization. What is also interesting is that your “twitx” also gets posted as a “twit” with a link both to Twitter and to Twitxr so people can read your text in Twitter but see your picture and text in Twitxr (and in my case they started appearing in my blog). So if Twitter answers the question of what are you doing now (which I never answer in my twits but I will in my Twitxs including pix), Twitxr answers what you are doing, plus gives an image of how you are doing it or who you are doing it with. And not only that but Twitxr takes information directly from your mobile device and tells WHERE you are doing it. Moreover all this goes in your Facebook as well so your friends get the Twitxs. They get at once a pix, plus your geolocalization, plus your text message.
So in order to prove the concept of Twitxing we started with the iPhone. The liberated iPhones are a great proof of concept for Twitxr (the iPhone tanked til it was open now over a million are estimated to be liberated) cause they have WiFi that works great with another Fon app the iFon app that turns your iPhone into a roaming WiFi device where there are many Fonspots (like in Tokyo). So with WiFi you can send your pictures to Twitxr very, very quickly. Also thanks to cell providers the iPhone also has some rudimentary geolocalization so that is tagged to the Twitx. So if you are lucky enough to have a liberated iPhones you can install iTwitxr from the installer (we may soon just call it Twitxr) and open an account in Twitxr and start twitxing away. And you can choose to just Twitx, or you can Twitx and Twit simultaneously, or you can do a triple whammy and Twitx, twit and Facebook all in one shot. If you use Facebook then your Twitxrs are shared with your friends who see the text, the picture and where you are. But you can of course also use Twitxr with any picture from any computer. You upload the picture to the Twitxr site and say what you want to say and your twitx is ready.
We hope you like this very beta product and give us ideas on how to improve it!
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars