“Freaky” and “creepy” are two words being used to describe Bongo – a new SMS-based information service that’s been launched in the UK and being heavily promoted at the moment. I have to say I had the same initial thoughts when I heard it being advertised on the radio with a proposition along the lines of “Text us the name and town of anyone in the UK to find out what Bongo knows about them.”
Of course, I couldn’t help trying it (surrendering £1.50 in the process) and this is what I got back:
Bongo knows a Jason DaPonte who works 4 the bbc in london & he organised a fund raisin (sic) for his triathlon earlier in the summer for a charity close to his heart
All true. And nothing salacious. Not that I’d have expected that, of course.
Fortunately, this is all information which is publicly on the internet about me and nothing “creepy” or “freaky” came back. But what if it had?
At first I was nervous but after some reflection I realised this is really just a VERY expensive way of doing a search on Google mobile and putting an editorialised twist on the results. It’s really not that different to what Textperts or AQA are doing (pulling intelligence out of search, sometimes using humans) – it just has a slightly stranger marketing campaign attached to it. Not surprising when you discover that in Australia, where I think they launched, they actually promote themselves as the “The Bongo Virus“…
Strange as this all sounds, I think its another pointer towards a trend whereby mobile search via SMS will be big. Being simple, human and to the point is what all of these services are about and that’s not something you can get when scrolling through pages of search results, hoping to get to some mobile-enabled content.