Envio Networks featured in NYTimes.com: “Friendsourcing the Quest for iPhone Apps”November 03, 2009
By Jenna Wortham
Recently, I asked a friend to show me his favorite new iPhone apps. He shrugged and said he didn’t have any. He said it was too hard to find ones he wanted, and he didn’t want to pay for anything he might not like.
It’s exactly this dilemma that Envio Networks, a mobile software company based in Andover, Mass., is hoping to tap into with a new iPhone app called Chorus.
“With thousands of applications available in the App Store, the traditional methods of discovery are not as optimal as they used to be, said Manish Jha, president and chief executive of the company.
Chorus, which is free, allows you to see which apps that your friends have downloaded and rated highly. It then uses algorithms to make recommendations based on those preferences.
The idea, Mr. Jha said, is that app suggestions aren’t too far off from film or restaurant recommendations — people want informal endorsements from people they trust have good taste.
“Helping consumers connect with their friends and find out what they like and have on their phones seemed like a no-brainer and potentially a game-changer for the industry,” he said.
In case you have some virtual unmentionables on your device, Chorus automatically hides apps marked with a 17+ ratingm and users can select whether or to make those visible. “We don’t want to put anyone in a potentially embarrassing situation by default,” Mr. Jha said.
As the number of applications available for download through Apple’s App Store continue to swell, the need has grown for a more efficient way to filter through the 100,000+ options across the multitude of categories. As a result, app discovery tools have become a flourishing segment of the iPhone app market: In addition to Chorus, there are also Yappler, AppsFire and forthcoming apps through Sidebar. In addition, Apple recently unveiled a feature called App Genius that makes recommendations based on past purchases.
Envio hopes some of Chorus’s additional features, such as an element called “App Mavens” that shows off top picks by notable app reviewers, will help distinguish its service from the pack.
Chorus is available as a free download to users — the company gets a small kickback each time it sends a purchase request for a paid application to Apple.
Envio, which is backed by the venture capital firms North Bridge Venture Partners and Matrix Partners, hopes to develop versions of Chorus for other smartphones, including Google’s Android operating system and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry.
“Discovering apps is a powerful idea, and we’re working on many more platforms to come,” said Mr. Jha.