Analysis & Opinion

Why Ditto isn’t just another repeat

May 24, 2011 Brenna Hanly

“Disruptive services always have three elements in common. They are always simpler, more fun and more useful.” Thus, Jyri Engestrom began his presentation to the recent Where 2.0 community. Engestrom is betting that his new SoLoMo application, Ditto, fulfills all three of those qualities.

His presentation piqued my curiosity, so I decided to follow up on Twitter and try to convince him to do a Skype interview with me. Mind you, Jyri’s no newbie to the Silicon Valley scene. He also founded Jaiku, which was acquired by Google in 2007. I wasn’t sure he’d take the call, but that’s one of the best things about Twitter, you can connect to literally anyone and most people will actually respond to you. This was the case with Jyri.

Below is a summary of the 30 minute conversation we had via Skype and the reasons why marketers need to pay attention to Ditto.

What it is

Ditto is an iphone application (coming soon to android) that allows users to say what they’re about to do and then get feedback from existing friends on Facebook or Twitter or other users in the same location. The inspiration behind Ditto was the insight that “where are you going” is one of the most common expressions communicated through mobile devices. The application aims to coordinate this planning process through the mobile, social and local information incorporated within it. Currently, it is tracking at about 10,000 downloads per week.

Why it’s different

Most LBS apps revolve around the gesture of “checking-in.” The thing about “checking-in” is that it’s about actions taken, what’s already happened, where you are already at. Ditto is creating a new category of services about the “near future” or what you’re about to do in the next 30 minutes to three hours.

Why it will prevail

Ditto will prevail amidst a marketplace of 400,000 applications for three reasons:

  • It was designed specifically as a mobile experience. The product was developed as an application, similar to foursquare. It was born as a simple, touch experience that incorporates local (mobile) data. Whereas other social services such as Facebook and Twitter were created primarily as a PC experience, and are more recently integrating location-based services.
  • The focus is on the user experience first and there is real benefit to the user. Ditto is building out more platforms and observing consumer behavior before monetizing. They are capturing and providing value at key decision points for consumers. For instance, Jyri talked about a situation where he was thinking about going to the movies to see Source Code. He put that information on Ditto. No sooner than five minutes, one of his Facebook friends responded and mentioned that Source Code was not anywhere near as good as [insert movie B]. Because Jyri knew this friend and respected his taste, he went to see the other movie instead. Through Ditto, Jyri was saved from seeing a movie he likely would not have appreciated.
  • The marketing value is clear. Although Ditto’s priority is on the user, it is easy to see how marketing can actually enhance the user experience. Imagine suggesting that you’d like to get a cup of coffee and Starbucks responding to you with a coupon for a store nearby or a free sample of a new latte. For brands, reaching consumers at the decision point is extremely powerful. The user benefit also exists in that they are receiving offers that are relevant to them based on declared real time interests.

What do you say? Ditto?