28. January 2013–
Berlin startup Amen is cooking up a second mobile app – a new peer-powered recommendation engine called Thanks.
The new app takes the data already on Amen and turns it into a product geared towards mainstream users. For those not familiar with Amen's first self-titled app, it's a platform to air opinions about the best and worst of everything. Put in "Kastanienallee is the Best Place for The First Kiss in Berlin", for example, and other users can "Amen" to agree or "Hell No" with a recommendation of their own.
That activity has now generated about four million lists of "Best"s and "Worst"s, covering everything from mobile games to restaurants, quotes, songs and the simple pleasures of life ("Popping Bubble Wrap", "Gentle Nose Picking"...)
The problem with this – and fuel for Amen's critics – is that it tends to come across as a time-waster for those not already addicted to the platform. Where's the value beyond trivial fun and one-upping your friends?
Thanks – Amen for mainstream users
For some time now, Amen's founders – Felix Petersen, Florian Weber and Caitlin Winner – have been trying to figure out a way to make Amen's data more useful for a wider audience. In June, the team introduced new location-based functions so Amen could function as a city guide as well as a platform for debate.
The new app Thanks basically reworks Amen to become a general purpose recommendation and search engine. The app, currently in private beta, might change before its public release, but here's what we know:
• You don't have to be an Amen user to use Thanks – you don't have to dispute or suggest any answers, you can just browse opinion. Search for the best app, movie, game, TV, song, book, travel or "best nearby" (with any other specifics you want to throw in) and you'll be presented with search results, tagged with the various lists they've appeared in on Amen. If there's no available answer, there's an option to ask your friends.
• We understand the original Amen will continue in its current form as a social game. It's not clear whether the info added to Thanks will also cross back into Amen – we'd assume so though.
• At least one of Amen's investors is already promoting the new version – Ashton Kutcher, who took part in a $2m seed round led by Index Ventures back in 2011, tweeted about Thanks this morning:
Until the public beta, it's too early to say if Thanks will take off – but for Amen, especially in the context of Facebook's new Graph Search, it's a very interesting new direction.
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