Envio Networks featured in WSJ.com: “App Watch: A Matchmaker in a Sea of Apps”November 02, 2009
November 2, 2009
By Andrew LaVallee
One of the frequently heard complaints about iPhone applications is that with more than 85,000 options, finding good ones can be tricky and time-consuming. Could the answer be yet another app?
Envio Networks on Tuesday is launching Chorus, a free app that shows users the ones their friends are trying out and suggests ones that might interest them. The Andover, Mass.-based company, which has received funding from Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners, specializes in social-networking technology and saw the Apple device as a good showcase for what it can do.
“We think that shared discovery is a very powerful concept,” said Manish Jha, Envio’s chief executive, who ran ESPN’s mobile unit previously.
To use Chorus, you register and add some friends, which you can do by inviting phone contacts, Facebook friends or even contacts in your immediate vicinity, who must also be Chorus users. You can then see apps they’ve added in an “activity feed,” which looks and behaves similarly to Facebook’s news feed.
You can search for apps to see who’s installed them, or browse your friends to look at the ones they’re using. Drilling down to a specific app shows your friends’ ratings and lets you go to the App Store to try it yourself.
Chorus’s social aspect comes in handy amid the App Store’s overwhelming selection, Mr. Jha said. “The best sources for finding out about cool things to get are your friends,” he said.
Envio is also inking partnerships with gadget reviewers whose recommendations appear as “app mavens” alongside friends’ ratings.
Chorus uses an algorithm based on the apps you already use, plus your friends’ ratings, to help recommend new apps. Shaking your phone, a la Urbanspoon, generates new suggestions, and the recommendation engine adjusts to give more weight to friends whose reviews you click, Mr. Jha said.
When you add an app via Chorus, it can notify your friends via Twitter and Facebook. Envio receives a cut of paid-app revenue through Apple’s affiliate program and is considering publisher deals to help profit from the service, though it’s primarily focused on building Chorus’s audience for the time being, Mr. Jha said.
It also plans to develop Chorus for other mobile platforms, including Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian, in the future.