Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tooio is to mobile what Tuenti is to web

Tooio (pronounced Two-ee-yo) has been pioneering Location-Based Mobile Social Networking since 2008, with its own twist -firstly, though maps feature within its app they are not, perhaps surprisingly, the main feature and secondly, Tooio's strategy has been to focus exclusively on Spain.

Having initially launched on Blackberry, Java-enabled phones and iPhone, Tooio is now releasing its Android version -sign of a clear commitment to product development.

The company raised $2m in November 2008 reflecting a clear show of faith in Tooio's CEO Rafa Casado's capabilities in launching new services and his pedigree as former chief of Terra Networks, a leading web operator in Spain.

But competition in Location-based social networks is tough, and models that work great on the web (such as 'Spanish Facebook' Tuenti) don't easily translate on mobile. This has meant that despite Tooio's brave efforts, it hasn't been able to gain the traction it requires to develop a critical mass of users. Reviews of its iPhone app are mixed (though the later release seems to have improved things) and its decision to limit and then reduce the number of free messages allowed between community members was heavily criticized by users.

A key success factor for Tooio will be the ability to import relevant (and original!) content and create that unique catch that will make it popular -the long tail of marketing is (very) long and a one-size-fits-all strategy is increasingly making way for unique niche-marketing.

Tooio has great potential -it has built a leading position in its geographical market and has the product development firepower to deliver- but will need to focus on offering a great all-round user experience if it is to stay ahead of rivals.