Yes, Now That Stranger Across the Bar Can Text You. No, It’s Not As Scary As It Sounds, Says Mobile App Developer PoKos

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brands to engage consumers at events they’re sponsoring, without mobile banner ads or couponing.

“People don’t really want their mobile platforms to be a spam couponing vehicle,” says Platt. With PoKos, event sponsors can send the consumers a notification wishing to communicate a specific message, but the PoKos app user can choose to ignore it or engage it. “They never get the recipients’ contact information and don’t get location information,” Platt says.

The app could even enrich experiences at concerts, sporting events, or business conferences. Musicians could use PoKos to get the audience’s take on playlists or encore songs at concert performances, or the crowd at the TD Garden could use the app to chat about Shaq’s performance at a Celtics game, Platt says. “Having a shared experience is three times better than sitting in the game and watching it by yourselves,” says Platt.

Ever want to chat with a really inspiring speaker at an event but weren’t able to catch him or her? Platt says attendees can use Point-and-Chat to message a speaker with a question or follow-up point, or start a reaction discussion with other members of the audience.

The PoKos Chat app will likely hit the Android market mid April and be ready for BlackBerry sometime next month, Platt says. Foursquare is working on a group chat technology that centers around location, but that ends once users leave a venue, whereas PoKos conversations can continue beyond a certain geographical spot, Platt says. The PoKos team, which operates out of the New Hampshire Innovation and Commercialization Center, consists of three co-founders and a number of contractors across the globe, and it counts author and Mobile Future Institute CEO Chuck Martin as an advisor, Platt says.

The company plans to make sure the technology is stable before looking to really scale the user base—which it will do with contests and other things that “make it fun to spread the word about the product,” Platt says. For now, PoKos is looking to bootstrap the operation and then potentially land some solid strategic partnerships. “It’s just a question of how fast we can grow smartly,” says Platt.

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4 responses to “Yes, Now That Stranger Across the Bar Can Text You. No, It’s Not As Scary As It Sounds, Says Mobile App Developer PoKos”

  1. Drew Baye says:

    I hope there is a way to automatically block this, that it is included in an iPhone software update, and that blocked is the default.

    Not only is this a huge invasion of privacy (if you don’t have my number you have no business sending me messages) but the potential for misuse by advertisers is huge. What’s to stop them from developing a device that automatically texts ads to everyone who walks past it?

  2. Adrian Meli says:

    Neat idea, though it does not seem likely it will work until they get around the need to download the app to receive. I wonder what technology they are using to target devices and how accurate it is, especially in crowds of people…

  3. timo platt says:

    PoKos is committed to give users control of their mobile phone experience, and unlike some leading LBS apps, PoKos Chat preserves user privacy. At any time or at any given venue, the user can stay in private mode (which prevents receipt of a Point-and-Chat message) and use PoKos Chat for all her texting and IM needs. Even if the user chooses public mode, she can decline any inbound message; ignore the sender; or block the sender.
    PoKos is similarly committed to prevent spam, and to limit commercial use with strict controls to meet user expectations.
    In summary: user choice, user control, user privacy.