GidiTraffic finally has an app. Yay?
Nay. At least as far as I’m concerned. I’m not convinced that this app is not another publicity stunt. And/or another line in his social media resume. And/or maybe even something bigger. Whatever it is, I’m not convinced that this app is really about Lagos traffic.
Back when GidiTraffic was still about traffic, I used to be excited about what he was doing. I imagined it would only be a matter of time before he would combine his excellent social media skills and the engaged audience he’d built with the technology that would take his crowdsourced Lagos Traffic solution to the next level. I was wrong.
For a brief moment, I dared to hope when I heard that he’d scored some deal with Nokia in June. Maybe they’d finally found some way to combine GidiTraffic tweets with Nokia maps? Or something along those lines? Nah. The deal was merely of the promotional sort. GT was simply busy helping Nokia sell Pureviews and Ashas. When he wasn’t playing Google, that is. Or is it Siri? Even Craigslist and mental health therapist sometimes.
By this time, GT’s timeline had become barely comprehensible, filled with traffic unrelated what-not. Even now, you’re still more likely to find tips on transcendental meditation, than actionable traffic data. Not being able to find relevant traffic information in that yammerfest is only slightly less vexing than the fact that GT insists on retweeting each and every compliment he receives from his gushing followers. Frankly, you’re better off listening to Lagos Traffic Radio.
So while GT was off collecting awards for retweeting people and playing Nigeria’s Siri, I was tracking other solutions that looked like they had the potential to “disrupt” GidiTraffic. Apps like Tsaboin Traffic Monitor, Traffikator and RoadPeer. At this time, none of them has achieved anything significant. But it would seem that their activity has gotten Kaptin seriously thinking about how to stay relevant in his professed space — possibly until he’s gained enough from it to achieve his other objectives. So he goes ahead and drops an app too.
Impressed? Not really. But curious? Well, yeah. And my mind is very open. Binjo who’s been following my opinions on the subject asked if I still wanted to disrupt GidiTraffic. my answer — it depends. If its useful and doesn’t become another yammerfest, then I’d be the first promote the hell out of it — whatever that is worth. If it’s not, then well…
As to the app itself, I’m yet to get a proper look at it. I was going to bring my Nokia E63 out of retirement to do just that, but the Ovi Store informed me that the app is incompatible with my device. Obviously designed with just the recent Nokia models in mind. Heh.
Anyways, I did get a good idea of what it looks like and how it’ll work from screenshots on what appears to be the development site/quick start guide. I’ve put a few here.
The app’s core is mostly a Twitter scrape — a scrolling feed of GidiTraffic’s timeline. Most of it is nothing you couldn’t do on Twitter already. In fact, the app requires you to sign in with Twitter (making it for all intents and purposes inaccessible to non-Tweeps) to view, post and request updates. As far as I can tell, users will still have to endure all the usual irrelevant goop. Unless they’ve come up with some way to filter it, which I doubt till I actually see it.
The heat map and share via SMS feature are where it starts getting interesting.
The heat map, which indicates the density/frequency of updates for a particular route (darker colour means more updates) is the first thing approaching usefulness with this app. Probably its sole redeeming feature, if it works right.
Share via SMS — the ability to share relevant traffic updates with your contacts who might not have access to the app — is an inspired feature, no doubt. However, everytime you use the SMS feature to “warn” your friend about traffic on their route, you’re not only inviting them to use/download the app, you’re sharing that contact with GidiTraffic as well. By now some can see where this is going. Sharing via SMS is a viral adoption loop, plain and simple.
Pardon my hyperactive imagination, but like I said earlier, I can’t help wondering if this app is even about traffic. Even if it is, it’s not likely to stay one for long. Forget the altruistic cover story, Lagos traffic is a hell of conversation starter. Question is, can you build a social network around it? Kaptin’s got a discussion going. With Nokia’s help, he’s got an app. They’ve got SMS plugged into it, and they’ll start collecting people’s phone numbers. You might have noticed that the app is listed under the social networking category. Don’t be surprised if they suddenly take all that yammering and pivot into some 2Go-style social network. I would be surprised if they didn’t.
What do you think?