Klamr, a new multi-task messaging app for iOS and Android debuted on the App StoreFriday. It's a Swiss Army knife type of service combining some of the most beloved social functions: messaging, social planning, location search, reviews, chat, and photo sharing.
To get started, sign in with your phone number. You then search for friends by their digits, and choose who to include in a meal, activity or event, specifying time and location. Reviews from Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook, and in-app suggestions of nearby venues and locations, help as a guide. Once you select who you want to meet up with and where, the app sends an SMS message with details and a URL to your companion (you can invite non-users to events).
Messages are private, so only you and your friends are in on the date (there is no simultaneous Facebook or Twitter posting). The point is to simplify a rendezvous down to a few clicks, explains founder and CEO Bryan Pelz.
"There needs to be a way to make it easier to go out with friends," he says, calling Klamr a solution for people who don't want to go out to the same places over and over, or cut and paste info from other apps. "We're just trying to scratch that one itch."
Right now Klamr is free, and there are no in-app ads. Pelz says he's more worried about user acquisition than monetization. Data will not be sold to third parties. Future revenue sources will come from brands interacting directly with users, but he won't say exactly how that will work.
In order to gain traction, his app will have to do everything it advertises as good or better than what's already on the market. That's because every functionality Klamr accomplishes treads into crowded territory.
Messaging is dominated by WhatsApp's 300 million active monthly users. Geolocation apps are burning hot right now; among the review sites, Yelp gobbles up more than 100 million users a month.
Pelz says he doesn't expect to replace these top services. Instead, he sees his app as a bridge merging the best features of each. Building a better mouse trap is the way to get user adoption, he says. But doing a little bit of everything has some competitors scratching their heads.
"Klamr needs something way more compelling as the core feature than social, messaging, and networking to enter today's mobile consumer market," says Spencer Chen, an executive at the mobile analytics site Mixpanel.
Chen points out that top social apps like Vine, the private networking service Circle, and Twitter and Facebook are all single-function. Offering buffet, instead of a la carte options, runs "counter to the usage patterns and the goals of mobile users," he says. Plus it's going to be tough to convince people to abandon their favorite apps.
Hunter Gray, the CEO and co-founder of the mobile calendar app Atlas agrees that too many features can confuse users.
"The 'Swiss Army' thing doesn't usually seem to work," Gray says.
Heather Meeker, the co-founder of the communications firm MeekerQuinn, and former vice-president at the free messaging service textPlus, says she understands Klamr is trying to streamline the user experience by providing feature options. But she agrees with Chen and Gray that it's a challenge to be all things to all people.
"The way for multiple-function apps to win is to provide an experience that is relevant, intuitive and elegant," she says. "Not cluttered."
Klamr's Pelz acknowledges that it is an ambitious play. But he's looking beyond the U.S. market for success. He's spent the last 13 years split between San Francisco and Vietnam, and says that experience taught him that the Asian market is ripe for a service like this. He says Asian mobile users could be his ace in the hole.
"People there are very comfortable having multiple messaging apps," he says.
Would you trade your favorite apps for this all-in-one service? Or use it in tandem? Let us know in the comments.