After two weeks of traveling to different parts of the region for the small exclusive blogger previews we put together in 4 countries….Today is the launch of NuffnangX.
Before I go on to tell you what it really is about for the first time, let me tell you how this idea came about. Since 2-3 years ago Ming has always said that we need to one way or another find a business that is targeted at the mobile phone. The mobile phone was huge and it was about to get bigger and even today the outlook looks the same. Mobile phones are a bigger deal than they ever were and they’re still set to look even bigger. So Netccentric went on to explore various different internet businesses but we eventually came back to our roots of blogging. Netccentric’s first company after all (Nuffnang) is a company about blogs.
Now here’s the thing about blogs. In today’s world, some 50% of Twitter’s 175 million users and 54% of Facebook’s 900 million users are mobile users. We pulled stats from figures of the 1,000,000 blogs Nuffnang has in Asia and we found that only 1% of blog readers read their blog on their mobile phone. Because of that, the influence of bloggers are being held back. So when I was at Nuffnang Blogopolis in July, someone asked me “What challenges lie ahead for the blogosphere?”. My answer to it… was technology. In the past 10 years so much has changed when it came to social media. Friendster, MySpace and Bebe came and went, then came Facebook, Twitter and today we have Instagram and Twitter. On the blog front, the only thing that has come out of Silicon Valley are platforms like Tumblr and Posterous but when it comes to long-form blogging, all we have is still WordPress and Blogger. After 10 years.
We waited for Silicon Valley to come up with some new mobile innovations for the blogging community but after a few years of waiting nothing happened. So one day Ming and I decided that we had to do it. So Ming and I took out money from our own pockets and created a new company called NuffnangX that will develop a mobile app for reading blogs. Credit to Ming… the app was his idea and I thought was one of the best ideas ever.
As much as felt passionate about the idea and the app it’s a risky investment though. NuffnangX has no revenue model, no ads no nothing for now and will likely not have one at least for the short – medium term. In this period we’re all focused on only one thing… to build a product that users love.
So what does NuffnangX do?
1) Follow Blogs You Love
You can follow blogs that you love just like you follow people on Twitter or Instagram. You can also comment on them, heart them, or share them but that’s not it.
This is where it differs from a traditional reader. Now traditional readers normally pull the title of a blog and then its first paragraph. We felt though that one paragraph is still too long for people to decide whether they want to read a blog or not on a mobile phone. So we developed an algorithm that will crawl through an entire blog and pick the one most interesting line of the blog entry to display on the app.
We call this line the “elevator pitch”.
So for example, when I read Xiaxue’s blog on my reader this is the line it pulls.
The “elevator pitch” may or may not be the first line of the blog entry. In Xiaxue’s case if you compare it with the full blog entry, the line is somewhere in the middle and it’s good enough to tell you what “Quirky Kwerkee” is about and interest you to click it.
Cool huh? It’s currently about 70-80% accurate but will get more accurate in time. How the algorithm does it is still a secret but we’ve filed for a patent for it.
2) NuffnangX Conversations
The other cool feature about NuffnangX that probably hasn’t been properly discovered by a lot of users yet is NuffnangX Conversations. This feature we hope will change the way people leave comments on blogs and respond to them. Traditionally if you want to leave a comment on a blog, you fill up a form and then you leave a comment there. When a blogger wants to respond to it, he/she leaves a another comment herself like this.
That is one of the most frustrating things about making comments or responding to comments.
What NuffnangX conversations does is that it lumps comments into conversation threads.
And because everything is on mobile, when you leaves a comment on my blog via the NuffnangX Conversations plugin below OR via the NuffnangX app, I will get a notification on my phone. When I get that, I can reply your comment from my mobile phone and you will then get a notification on your phone (if you used your NuffnangX account to comment). Commenting on blogs then become a very direct conversation with bloggers and bloggers can reply comments now when they’re on a bus or waiting for an elevator.
You can try it when you see the NuffnangX Conversations plugin at the bottom of my blog.
There are millions of great blogs out there all over the world. Many blogs that you would be interested to read but you just don’t know how to find them. Up till today there still isn’t a really easy way to find good fashion blogs or tech blogs or even sports blogs. We hope to change that in NuffnangX. To make it easy for people to find new blogs in categories they’re interested in. I for example am really interested in technology, gadgets and celebrity news so NuffnangX has helped me find and follow blogs I wish I knew existed before.
All in all, NuffnangX’s launch today marks the end of some 9 months of preparation work. It is however only the beginning of what we plan to do with the app. After ironing little bugs we have in our initial launch we have so many more ideas on things we can do with NuffnangX. Ideas that we’re holding back for now because we want to make the app as simple as possible to understand. It’s a long road ahead for Ming and I… but a really exciting one.
So download NuffnangX on the Apple App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android and try it out. I’d love to hear what you think.
Back to work now for me! I have a conference call with the US NuffnangX team in 90 minutes. Good night everyone!
UPDATE: OMG 9 HOURS AFTER LAUNCH AND WE’VE MADE IT TO THE 5TH MOST DOWNLOADED APP ON APPLE’S APP STORE IN SINGAPORE AND 11TH IN MALAYSIA!!!