Friday, April 22, 2016

Kickstarter WTF's: TrapTap

So, it's now been years since smartphones have become ubiquitous in the US. We've also seen the growth of Waze as a nav app, specifically because of it's combination of crowdsourced traffic, speedtraps, and road conditions; so much so, Google and Facebook fought each other for the right to buy them (Google won). So, we have a perfect blend of market, community, and technology to be able to report and share vital driving info. Right?

Um, TrapTap doesn't think so. Nope, these folks are introducing a small physical device that uses visual and audio indicators to tell you that there's something to watch out for. Could be a speed trap, could be a school zone. Oh, but you see that cop you just passed at 20 miles faster than you should be? Well, just before he pulls you over, just tap twice on this gadget and everyone else will get hooked up with the info on their TrapTap.

So why my gripe? Well, first you're creating a boil the ocean problem: in order for the purchaser to benefit, the community needs to be there. Except it's got to be built up by lots of people using this gadget. Which means all these folks have to pony up the $100 to get into the ecosystem. No, that's not a mistype: not free like Waze, or $10 for the small hardware; add another zero there. And don't forget, this is Kickstarter: you may never see this disc of magic, and instead find yourself funding some Canadian booze-fueled binge vacation. Sigh.

The truth is that I loved these folks' video, albeit being very bro-hipster-centric:


I like the fact that the user experience is more driver friendly than apps like Waze for reporting hazards. I just think it requires so much more, or a head start by licensing existing community data to supercharge the network effect. But this smacks of being a feature that's trying to be a product: imagine if this was built in to your radar detector, or an accessory for your Waze/Apple Maps/Google Maps? Think of how Square gives away their credit card reader to get new customers, or how Amazon charges $5 for a Dash button, but gives you $5 credit for your purchases. Now that is how to get this type of product to market.

But thanks, guys, for the entertainment. And if you get an acquisition offer...you're welcome. :-)

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