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Summary:

Hard to say yet whether this is just another spark from the over-rubbed balloon that is today’s social media startup world, or an actual spa…

Color Screen Shot

Hard to say yet whether this is just another spark from the over-rubbed balloon that is today’s social media startup world, or an actual spark of genius: A new service called Color — which creates social groups and timelines around photos you take on your phone and your current location — has just launched as an iOS and Android app, with an eye-popping $41 million of VC funding in its pocket from the word go.

Backers for the service include such A-list names as Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital and Silicon Valley Bank. According to Tech Crunch, the company is touting the fact that this happens to be the largest amount of money Sequoia has ever invested in a pre-launch site — “more than they gave Google.”

In all, Color has seven founders behind it. They include Bill Nguyen, who (among other things) founded and sold music streaming service Lala to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Peter Pham, Color’s president, who had been the CEO of BillShrink.com as well as the VP of business development of Photobucket before it was sold to News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media.

What does the app actually do? It proposes to build timelines and groupings of people and events, using photos that a person takes on a mobile handset. A user can also create videos and write comments to further illustrate the images.

Unlike sites like Twitter and Facebook, it doesn’t require you to create social networks to use the service — it relies on sourcing media from other users who are in your immediate vicinity. It does this by using the phone’s own location-finding functions (including GPS, and apparently its microphone to make sound profiles to match up with those of other users).

One can also create groups of other users that do work more like conventional social networks, so that you can keep tabs on other people’s images, even when they are not within 100 feet of you.

Unfortunately, taking up the app at its earliest point has meant that for now I, for one, cannot really see the full potential of how it works: it seems that no one in my corner of London — or social group, such as it is — has yet to download the app.

That could be one of the big downsides for the service in its early days if people get sucked in by the hype (as I have) but then only get met with a couple of bad pictures of themselves as the basis of their timeline (as, unfortunately, I have, too).

One of the positive points that could help the service carve out a niche, though, is that it works without you having to sign up to link in with existing social groups on sites like Facebook or Twitter — although I wouldn’t be surprised if that kind of integration came along eventually and was used as a way of growing the app’s user base.

The app’s creators do not have a business model worked into the launch app, although the write-up in TechCrunch notes that there are plans to sell the service as a white-label offering, or as a platform, to businesses who could use it to push out relevant offers and advertising to users. (Getting an offer for a pair of earplugs when at a loud concert, perhaps?)

The app is available in both iTunes and the Android Market, as well as through links on Color’s site, however you choose to spell it (color.com or colour.com).

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  1. Robert Andrews Thursday, March 24, 2011

    It’s getting harder and harder not to conclude we’re in a bubble.

  2. Sounds like a dream app for stalkers: Snap a pic of that pretty girl in the crowd and then keep track of her even when she isn’t within 100 feet. Eek! Count me out of this one!

  3. Ingrid Lunden Thursday, March 24, 2011

    NativeAKinTX: On your point, it should also be noted that there’s very little info on privacy guidelines so far as I can see. That may come to bite Color in the end — your scenario being one of the big negatives.

  4. As already mentioned, looks great for stalkers!
    Any wacko could troll the images appearing in their location to pick their next assault victim.
    A lot of women use their instinct to pick up on the creep that’s leering at them nearby and use these ‘gut reactions’ or those of their friends as a safety warning to be aware of and stay away from creepy leering dude. This app would maximize leer time and minimize perv detection time …

    And… they’re gonna throw adds up on my phone?!?!!!

  5. Interesting to get that much capital, when the reviews of the iPhone app are terrible. Average of 2* with 134 marked as 1*. Must have been one amazing sales job to Sequoia

  6. I must be living in a bubble.

  7. Work Avoidance Log Friday, March 25, 2011

    The story says:
    “A new service called Color…has just launched as an iOS and Android app, with an eye-popping $41 million of VC funding in its pocket from the word go.”
    and
    “The app’s creators do not have a business model worked into the launch app…”

    We’re not in a bubble. We’re through the looking glass.

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