Have You Yo’d Today?

Don’t tell us you haven’t heard about Yo yet. No, really?! Well, then you haven’t been doing the usual rounds of technology news websites or Twitter, that must be it.

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Yo is the simple-stupid messaging up that’s been steadily climbing in virality over a couple of months.  While Steven Colbert parodied it and even tech bloggers including Robert Scoble didn’t see a future, Valley VC Marc Andreessen chided the tech community of being dismissive of the communication platform too soon.

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The first thought that comes to mind is the infamous honking system in India. A simple commute is infused with so much honking that for a person uninitiated with the honking culture, this can seem deleteriously disorienting.

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A single honk can mean a range of different things: from a small beep that could mean hey I’m just turning left, let me pass, to a 30 second blare from public buses that could send a frantic auto rickshaw driver scrambling out of the way.

While Marc goes on to liken Yo to the “missed call” famously used in countries such as Phillipines, Bangladesh and even India, to send some sort of ‘pre-agreed’ messages for free, this begs the question: what is the value of something that saves bandwidth, time and money in a developed economy? For instance, ZipDial, a marketing and analytics platform for mobile marketing used the humble missed call to tap into the booming Indian mobile market. Through a simple missed call to the company’s phone number (without a charge), businesses can reach those customers with coupons, deals or other promotions through a text message sent directly to customers’ phones.

Well, Yo isn’t poised to disrupt on those same lines. However, it does seem like it is making itself useful in some niches. The Guardian’s Charles Arthur writes that Yo is an instant hit within their technology team – Yo is used to prod team members to look at their screens/await emails. In this instance, it is a personal nudge. Definitely niche. However, Arthur doesn’t stop there. He extends Yo’s usefulness to wearables.

Often, Android Wear is described as simply shrinking the phone down to the watch. Hence, the idea of working with smart watches is fairly overdone. It is painful to watch the degree of care involved in avoiding mis-swipes on a smart watch. The thing about Yo is it’s surprisingly simple and social, apart from being built for one clear, unambiguous purpose. Wearables need a new take on how notifications should be done; this is where Yo would step in: to move away from the oldness of touchscreens on limited real estate. Yo-ing the present context seems like built for wearable technology. Now, this seems like something that could take Yo places.

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