Yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt Day #1 I didn’t “get” Do@, and I think this was mostly because I was put off by the graffiti branding. Not sure why, just a personal preference, but its amazing how powerful that first impression is. Then, I found out Cathy Brooks is leading marketing there, which got my attention because she is a tough woman, great story teller, and super connected. I just sat down after talking to their CTO and downloading and playing with the app, mind blown, to write this post in the back row.
Disrupt is a strange event, because you can see the future of mobile search in one moment, and then walk into the room as an entrepreneur talks about getting kids to “do butt art”. But I digress…
UPDATE: What IS Do@?
Do@ is an iPhone application that lets you search across publishers for content you care about in a mobile context. You enter something like “French” and it autocompletes with things like “French Food @ internet” or “French @ books”. When you select a result, you can horizontally scroll through pages of content to pick what you want. It’s like clicking through the top 10 Google results, except minus the clicking and plus the beautiful touch interface of the iPhone.
What’s with the name “Do@”?
I didn’t ask this, but I should have. It’s impressive that the company landed a four letter domain name, so I wonder if they did that first and then tried to rationalize it with the branding. My best guess is that the concept around the brand/name is that mobile search isn’t about consuming a lot of information, its about approaching “perfect information” or the right information for my context. Something cool about mobile app usage is that it always happens in a place, and on smartphones the app can get this location data without even syncing something like Foursquare or Facebook Places.
One other note on the name – it kind of reminds me of the SEO problems with “Ke$ha” (the music artist), but I’m an early adopter type and the general public might not care, or might actually dig it. We’ll see. It will certainly make it easy to completely own the search for “Do@”.
Media Consumption Power Tools for Regular People
What strikes me about Do@ is how easy it is to use. Download, connect Facebook, do a search, done. However, what done looks like is a dashboard as sophisticated as any home grown social media listening platform I’ve ever seen. I immediately searched for Twilio and found tons of conversations, articles, and relevant tweets and Quora threads. I can also “heart” searches that I want to do over and over again. Setting up this kind of listening in my brand would be incredibly time consuming with a tool like Google Reader, but do@ does it in seconds. I’m not sure this is the intended purpose, but I already know I’ll be using it as a media consumption and listening tool. I really really hope they release an iPad app soon too – it could compete with my love for Flipboard!
This is More Than Search, Its a Browser
There’s no Firefox or Google Chrome for the iPhone, but Do@ made it into the AppStore. I almost wonder if this is because Apple doesn’t even totally understand what it is yet. This is an entirely new user experience model for a mobile browser, driven by intention, implied preferences through sharing, and location (I think?).
When you use the app, it isn’t just displaying images of screens and then having you click through Safari. You can load the content and interact with it inside the app. This means Do@ is already building a huge data asset in engagement data which this can use to further refine results and improve the experience.
No Cold Start Problem in Sight
Ultimately, I fell in love with Do@ because I didn’t need to invite anyone to it to gets tons and tons of value in minutes. By simply connecting Facebook, it learned enough about me to give me relevant results. It has excellent search-as-you-type, so it tries to take a best guess at what I’m looking for based on both my explicitly stated interests and implicit interests it gleans from the content I share on Facebook.
Robert Scoble covered Do@ yesterday on his blog, and I’m dieing to read the post and watch this video. For now, I’ll post it here for your enjoyment: