We’ve been over this before: while at AOL in the ’90s I failed to get approval for something I dubbed “Broadcast IM” — the ability to send instant messages via IM (AIM) to more than one person simultaneously, with each user’s response seen by everyone. Kinda like a listserv. Kinda like, yeah, Twitter.
Anyway, a few years later along came the wonderful (for its time) Upoc — group mobile texting and voice messaging. Then the tech bubble and subsequent mobile innovation collapse and general malaise among Americans regarding their use of cellphones beyond blabbing. I feared data on cellphones would become “soccer” – popular everywhere else in the world but too difficult with T9 for lazy Americans. Tick Tock… Hello iPhone. At last things began to really change, as we all now know.
Back to group messaging: in 2010-2011 we’ve seen a mini-explosion of services each doing essentially the same cool thing – allowing you and friends to communicate on the go. Some employ location detection to give more context, or check-in data. Today GroupMe (one of the biggies in the space, on iPhone and Android) announced a new feature the permits users to join pre-existing groups. See a “joinable” group that’s interesting? Request entry and voila. Nice method to get usership to blossom.
But I was reminded that another, if smaller player called groupflier that I wrote about a while back is ahead of the pack. Groupflier actually already has the feature GroupMe is launching “in time for SXSW.” It’s called Public Groups and it’s a feature very easy to use.
On the site, just click Public Groups, choose the one you want to join, enter your name and number and you’ll soon be part of the conversation.
As mentioned there are several players in this park and surely more will come. Then Facebook and F-square et al will integrate the functionality (if they cut favorable text-cost deals with carriers). Until then don’t overlook the up and comers like groupflier. It’s slick, simple, fun and incredibly useful. Even though it’s no “Broadcast IM”.
Disclaimer: I know the CEO of the company running groupflier.
This post originally appeared on Locl.ly.