To track or not to track, that is the question.

This was an email conversation I had with someone who was asking about TouchBase. After describing it, I realized I hadn’t done the best job, so I tried to correct it and I think I did, so I wanted to republish here.

 

Rob: if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your personal take on the product/strategy?

Friend: Hard to say since I’m not a parent and back when I was a kid, I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 16 or 17. I think it’s a good way to keep track of kids but I think it is even better for parents not to need their kids to touchbase to know where they are. Such as an app that automatically transmits the child’s location for the parent to check on whenever they’re wondering where their kid is. I think part of the problem for me to understand this market segment is because I don’t have a kid so I can’t relate to the need of knowing where a child is. Although, it seems like a great way to find the phone if it’s lost as long as the application doesn’t require that someone touch the touchbase button in order for the other user to locate it. Maybe this app could be developed into something to prevent parents from panicking when their kid wanders off at an amusement park or at the mall. If they can just look at a screen with their child’s location, then they know where to find them. This could be really good in child abduction cases where the snatcher hasn’t had a chance to dump the phone. This sort of product already exists but it gets terrible reviews.

Maybe the integration of messaging, too. What if the parent messages with the child and the kid’s location shows up with each message? What age group are using this product, out of curiosity?

Rob: First, on the point about tracking automatically. I’m not a parent either, but I was a teen. I would not have liked the concept of my parents knowing my every movement without me having any say in the matter. This type of app exists (http://www.logsat.com/iPhone/familytracker/http://www.whereoscope.com/). We are at the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Children hate those other apps. We are building reasons for children to like sharing their location with parents (namely through a game called Brownie Points) so they aren’t forced to use it or otherwise be using it without ever knowing. Our end goal is exactly what you described: parents and children don’t need the app anymore because after years of use, the children get the ultimate reward: trust from their parents. That’s why we are building features in later versions that make children want to use the app, even when they don’t need to.

Our whole point is that you have to actively check in, and we try to encourage doing that as often as possible. When TouchBase is a native client, children can leave the app on in the background, but that’s the child’s choice.
We are child-centric app and have always been; we care just as much about how children feel as how parents feel. It’s our biggest differentiator and the reason we are getting such a favorable response. If there is anyway you can try to make that as clear as possible in the posting tomorrow, I’d really appreciate it. We are actually trying to get as far away from the type of service you described as possible because children hate it and it isn’t working. TouchBase is focused not just on sharing locations, but enabling better, faster, and more beneficial family communication to help improve the opposing dynamics of parents and children and making a marriage between the two inside of an app.
And as a side note, we have built status messages to be sent with both location requests and location responses, those should be live in about a week. We will be adding the ability to share other forms of media in later versions of the product.
I hope this helps to clarify things, if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Friend: Is this geared at teens then?
Rob: Absolutely. The parents pay for the app, but the children use it because they get rewarded with trust, prizes, and more freedom for doing so.
Friend: make sure you get in touch with [name] [he can help you out]
Hopefully that will clarify some things for you folks as well.
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