Brightkite is now public, but still seems empty to me

brightkite I first wrote about location-based social network Brightkite back in May. At that time the service was still in invite-only private beta. Today, Brightkite went into public beta:

Invitations are no longer required and sign up is now open everyone. In addition, you can now invite your friends to join Brightkite without restriction.

Even though we are announcing the public beta today, keep watch over the next few weeks for a significant iPhone update, additional mobile support, additions to our API and a host of new features and improvements.

Ignoring the fact that they’re still calling it a beta, I think this is good news. I hope it means that more users will join the service, because it still seems pretty empty at the moment, at least for an Edmontonian like myself! Looking at “People Near Me” page shows only seven people in the area (4000 meters) and only three of them have been active in the last day or so.

Maybe opening up to the public won’t be enough to get people to join though. Perhaps Brightkite should add support for the newly launched Facebook Connect? Or heck, maybe Twitter should acquire and integrate Brightkite. That would make me happy!

My favorite way to use Brightkite at the moment is via the relatively new iPhone/iPod touch native app. It’s fast, and works quite well. The only way it could be better is if it ran in the background and could check me in automagically.

The issues I noted in my previous post still exist:

  • SMS doesn’t work in Canada, so I can’t update with a text message.
  • Mobile email is picky about format, both subject and body.
  • I can see all the places I have visited and how many times I have visited each one, but I still think it would be neat to see a route for a given period of time.

That said, they’ve got a pretty good API now, they support Fire Eagle, and they’ve made a bunch of nice improvements to the UI. Brightkite seems to be growing and improving, albeit slowly.

If you’re curious, I’d invite you to sign up and give Brightkite a shot. Be sure to add me as a friend when you do!

4 thoughts on “Brightkite is now public, but still seems empty to me

  1. I just took a look at the site, and they need a lesson in sales. There’s very little specific information about what it is and how it works to convince you to sign up. I’m not the kind of person who signs up to something just to see how it works (not enough time for that)

  2. Mark,

    If you’re looking for a great application that works in the US and Canada that enables you to share your location with dynamic maps check out Zhiing. Zhiing is not a social network app but rather a location based utility more like email or SMS text messaging.

    If you download the browser add on from zhiing.com you can also send locations from your computer to your phone.

  3. I agree with you that Brightkite still seems incredibly empty. But for those people that I do see on, it seems like they are listing far too much information. I know exactly where there house is, where they take a picture of their huge 52″ plasma, right next to their huge computer set up. Just seems like they’re setting up the coordinates for someone to come rob them.. or for someone to start stalking them.

    The zhiing service benefits over that privacy issue by only sending your location to the people you want so that they can find you, and not some creeper.

  4. By scrolling through the sections on the Brightkite homepage, you get a general idea of the service. Rather than clutter things up we want people to dive in and really get a feel for Brightkite.

    We also offer comprehensive privacy settings, so if someone only wants their friends or trusted friends to see their exact location, they can do so. If people post personal information publicly, that is their decision. I always post publicly, but if I want to check in to a location that is sensitive, I simply don’t tell Brightkite my exact location, I’ll check into the street or even the city. Our users are in control of their location 100% of the time.

    Where Brightkite really stands out is the ability to meet new people, if you are open to it. I’ve met some very cool people in my city as well as people from out of state who were passing through town. Even glancing through nearby users to get ideas for dinner, etc. has proven to be quite handy. We’re also available worldwide and it’s incredibly fun to see what people are up to around the world.

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