Last month mobile-to-mobile communications company Bump decided to share its technology, which allows for data transfer between two iPhone or Android phones. For example, its flagship iPhone app swaps contact info and photos when two phones “bump” (as in “fist bump”) near each other. Bump introduced an API, but to little fanfare.
Why there hasn’t been much interest, at least publicly, is puzzling. As TechCrunch wrote, transfering data between devices is still difficult:
It’s a problem that’s as frustrating as it is ridiculous: many of us are now walking around with incredibly powerful mobile phones capable of rendering 3D graphics and multitasking. Yet transferring small bits of data between two nearby phones is still often a total pain.
Bump has created several apps with its technology, including a Connect Four game. The company claims to have been “overwhelmed” by developer interest. And it’s reasonable to expect that they received a number of requests to join what is, essentially, a private beta. But is there enough interest for Bump to become a platform for mobile app communications? James Gillmore thinks so:
[It's] gonna be a big deal, and it’s gonna be exactly what the company needs. The problem with these sort of apps is that they’re only useful when you have critical mass. The technology is great, but if nobody else can bump their phone with your to exchange contact details and other info, what good is it?
Critical mass is also what the company will need for its technology to be the de facto method to communicate between phones. Right now its API is only being made available to about 20 developers accepted after sharing their ideas with Bump.
To encourage participation, Bump is holding a contest for those accepted into the program and giving away as much as $2,500 to the best app. And it has published a list of ideas of its own that it would like to see: dating, social games, party games, cloud file sharing, virtual goods and music discovery.
Gillmore wrote about his virtual goods idea on his blog, but said he wouldn’t be submitting it to Bump’s site. The company undoubtedly has plans to open its platform to anyone, but is this initial, semi-closed beta turning potential developers away? Will they still be there when Bump needs them to become the standard for inter-mobile communication?