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April 28, 2009

IPhone -Bump App: Exchanging Contact Info on the iPhone, One Pow at a Time


A man and woman sit at opposite ends of a dimly lit hotel bar – attending the same conference, both single. They make eye contact and blush instantly. He drains his Heineken and then, full of Dutch courage, slides out of his stool and sidles up to her.
 
He sees it before getting a word out. He’s in luck! For there, laid on its own cocktail napkin beside her apple martini, is an iPod Touch.
 
Without a word, he pulls his own iPhone from his breast pocket, opens an app, then palms the device and makes a fist. He looks at her knowingly. She nods, picks up her Touch and does the same.
 
Then, each conference attendee wondering if this could be “the one,” if the searching is over, if taking this lousy job is actually going to pay off in such a major way, they . . . give each other a pow?
 
It’s not Danielle Steele, but with a new application from Bump Technologies LLC, chances are some version of that rendezvous could be happening at a watering hole near you, if it hasn’t already.
 
The company’s “Bump” app – which uses location-based technology and WiFi (News - Alert) to exchange contact information between two iPhones or Touches – got a shot in the arm this week (and some free marketing) when it became the one billionth app downloaded to one of the touchscreen Apple Inc. devices. One billion apps is a staggering total and newsworthy on its own.
 
(Briefly, I will note here that the 13-year-old boy who won the “billion app countdown” contest, Connor Mulcahey, hails from Weston, Connecticut – a town that borders TMC’s headquarters in Norwalk. Connor reportedly won a $10,000 iTunes gift card, iPod touch, Time Capsule and MacBook Pro.)
 
That’s all well and good, but does the free app actually work?
 
Yes it does. I tried it out yesterday with TMC President Rich Tehrani (News - Alert), an avid iPhone 3G user who often writes in his blog about the potential for the device as a business phone. Rich and I set up our virtual “contact cards” rather quickly, so we only exchanged names, phone number and e-mail addresses, but Bump users also have the option of adding their own photographs.
 
I checked my iPod Touch contacts moments after the “Information Exchanged” message flashed on-screen, and sure enough, Rich had been added.
 
The app’s makers say there’s a paid version of Bump coming soon, one that will enable users to send multiple photos and contacts, and maintain custom profiles (for example, groups of contact information specifically designed for work, personal or school-related contacts). The app works across any type of Internet connection (3G, EDGE, WiFi), on any iPhone (News - Alert), iPhone 3G or iPod Touch.
 
Officials at Bump Technologies also say the app is perfectly secure.
 
“No one can see any of your information – not even your name – unless you physically bump hands with them,” company officials say.
 
So who, apart from our budding hotel bar lovers, will use this app?
 
Consider the increasing likelihood that the iPhone will emerge as a communications device used in more and more businesses.
 
Recently, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research firm said that companies should plan ahead of time for changes in their culture, IT support and provisioning as the iPhone is introduced as a business device. Already, officials at Forrester Research, Inc. say, companies such as Kraft Foods and Oracle (News - Alert) believe that the will be useful in their offices.
 
The Bump app doesn’t signal the end of the business card – or even the virtual business card. But imagine a sales person and potential client talking shop over a cup of coffee or a drink, exchanging contact information with the tool. It’s a far more personal exchange than simply swapping business cards – and that’s all for the better, as long as one party doesn’t “pow” too hard (sorry about that, Rich).
 
The app – which does require the 2.2 software update – allows users to store multiple profiles for sharing, under different names, and is poised to spread quickly with its “Share Bump” feature, which allows users to send a link on the iTunes App Store to any friend through an e-mail account.
 
Pretty smart.
 
Right now, probably thanks to Connor, the app is ranking number-one among all App Store social networking tools.
 
Check it out for yourself.
 

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.


Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan
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