Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Color: Is This the World's Most Innovative Hook-Up App?

A hundred-thousand screams were heard last night, when it was announced that a startup called Color had gotten $41 million in investment money—pre-launch. It has seven founders! It's a social photography iPhone app! They paid $350,000 for the url "color dot com"! (Which is just a "click-here for the app store!) And it is now live.

Basically, Color finds people around you, and so you can see (and have) everyone's photos from around you. (Everyone who is also using Color, that is.) The tech sounds wildly impressive! (And high-bandwidth—it samples audio around you to match up devices that are "hearing" the same things? Whoa.) The case can be made quite well that this tech, if not this specific implementation, is huge. Also, it has $41 million in pre-launch funding! That's a lot of millions to spend on something that has a high chance of becoming the straight version of Grindr. In the right venue, it'll become nonconsensual Chatroulette on the go! In the best, non-pornographic case, it's a live, interacting group photo Tumblr.

One thing that seems unexplored: is this the end of copyright? Here's what Color says about using the app: "I can see photos and videos being taken by all people using Color on their smartphone nearby me. The photos and videos I see here will be mine to keep." So it's an app that gives away your personal photos to everyone who happens to be within a hundred yards.

36 Comments / Post A Comment

Abe Sauer (#148)

If Lucius Fox types his name into the mainframe does Color explode?

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I've never used Grindr, so you'll have to forgive my ignorance, but how would this work for hookups exactly? Just broadcast shirtless photos of yourself hoping that someone walking by your building will think, "hmm… I wasn't doing anything important anyway"?

mrschem (#1,757)


There's like a "friend" function in Color. Now, straight women of course won't play this. But dudes will be like "YEAH LET'S BE FRIENDS, CHECK OUT MY PECS."

mrschem (#1,757)

Pshaw, I send out pics of my pecs all the time!

freetzy (#7,018)

If you send out pics of your pecs, where are the pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Today's Phrase That Pays TM was: Tongue Twisters.

I don't know if this helps at all, but the app is called "Grindr."

Please someone tell me I am not alone in not understanding this. Why would you want complete strangers to see all your photos? Is this yet another instance where I am hopelessly old?

mrschem (#1,757)


KarenUhOh (#19)

I got the same results thirty years ago by taking off my pants in the cafeteria.

Kevin (#2,559)

But if people are around you can't you just look at them and go, meh or whoa accordingly? I don't care about their pics.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

And then what? Go up and talk to them? Wicked awk!

zidaane (#373)

"Hey, the background in this guy's photo looks just like my kitchen.";

mrschem (#1,757)

I always want to do this when I see the old non-matching foundation jawline but I always stop myself.

C_Webb (#855)

How bout everyone just throws their iPhones in a pile when they enter the bar, then drinks copiously. By the time you're drunk, your phone will have figured out whom you should hook up with, how to get you home, and the cheapest nearby bloodies for the morning after.

amuselouche (#448)

Re: copyright,I would assume that it's just a terms of use issue and that anyone who wants to use the app is required to sign away their copyright. So not the end of copyright itself,just the end of copyright for anyone crazy enough to agree to use this app. Sort of like IP darwinism for the dickrolling crowd.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

Yes, although I don't know that you always have copyright in the pictures on your phone. If someone else took them and gave them to you, is that a presumptive license or is it signing away the copyright?

It's been a long time since my IP class, and in that era YouTube didn't exist, so…

amuselouche (#448)

Great point…and one to which I unfortunately don't have an answer. Like YouTube,they may be hoping to rely on a DMCA exemption for any copyright issues that arise (although I'm not sure how this applies to apps). It's also possible that they may be working on a tech solution to limit the functionality to only photos taken someone's iphone or that there is some sort of limited license granted somewhere in the 8000 pages of Apple's user agreement that might cover this. Either way, I am sure some enterprising young law student is writing a note on it as we speak.

chappell (#10,662)

I don't think the question is one of copyright. In fact, the debate over photography + copyright began when the photographic process was invented. I'm more concerned how a company can bastardize the word 'memories' to push an app.

Slava (#216)

All right… cooooool it, AwlCrunch!

hman (#53)

Well if this doesn't get people without cellphones to give in, I don't know what will.

bemuselouche (#10,201)

super sad true

It’s difficult to explain what Color does with a bullet list of features, so I’ll try painting an example that hopefully demonstrates how it works.

It takes some time to wrap your head around, and my time with the app was limited, so I can’t really vouch for how well it works.

Yeah, $41M still doesn't buy a clearly articulated value proposition, I suppose.

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

This week I took some pictures of crocuses, a wall, and the back of my own head to see if my topknot was lumpy. Hey guyz within 100 yards, come be my friend!

C_Webb (#855)

My daughter uses my phone to take a gajillion pictures of our cat, which as far as this app is concerned, may well constitute a firewall.

BadUncle (#153)

Sorry, but I don't want to keep some stranger's shots of her bachelorette party.

Suit yourself.

David Cho (#3)

Oh ok.

narnio (#38)


Niko Bellic (#1,312)

The question is not if you would want to share photos or not, it's if you can be better at timing the buying and the selling of the stock among the people who think this particular stock will attract a lot of people who like to buy and sell stocks.

flossy (#1,402)

"So it's an app that gives away your personal photos to everyone who happens to be within a hundred yards."

I would pay very good money to avoid this horrible thing. There's your business model right there.

adrianne (#8,544)

i was playing with color on the bus this morning and took a picture of my knee; got a 'can we see more' comment immediately. does that mean dude was on the bus?

dumdum (#10,055)

…and when she looked at the pictures on her Color App, she realized the messages were coming from INSIDE THE HOOOUUUUUUSE!

Alright kids, time for bed.

saladroll (#10,698)

oh great yet another narcissistic app for the suburban crowd. sounds like a great surveillance law enforcement tool wrapped in marketing gibberish, such as 'the most vivid and complete representation of my memories'…. what!

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