Apr 8, 2004 Business & Marketing
Dodgeball is not as unique as it is obvious. You take the likes of Friendster (Does anyone still use Friendster?), Orkut, Tribe.net, attach a mobile phone, and you get Dodgeball. With “social networking” being boardroom bzz words, a mobile phone service such as this was bound to happen sooner or later. Most likely, an ignorant VC will follow with an open checkbook.
How does it work? You tell Dodgeball where you are physically located at this exact moment and it will respond with a text message saying there are 36 people within a 10 block radius to avoid, err meetup with.
Dodgeball is a very bad name for this reason. Just the word Dodgeball invokes the emotion of avoidance. No, I was not the fat kid in 6th grade dodgeball, I actually enjoyed the game growing up. But, no matter how much you loved the game, nobody likes to be hit by the, ahem, Dodgeball. If I were looking to brand this type of service, it would be better to use a term that invokes attraction, inspiration, or location. Good brand names, although most likely taken (and I’m too lazy to check the obvious) would be MagNet, Pocket FOAF (Friend Of A Friend ), Radius, SMSmart, SMStreet, etc. I know these aren’t exactly great, but they aren’t Dodgeball either.
While the type of service might be attractive to a certain sub_culture of twenty-somethings and metrosexuals seeking mates-in-heat, I don’t see it branching out much further from there. In fact, throughout their site they reek of targeting such an audience. Everyone on the site so far, from owners to new members, looks like they are trying to build a profile as a TRL (does anyone still watch that?) VJ.
From their faq:
Q: What does it do?
A: The idea is simple: tell us where you are, and we’ll tell you who is within 10 blocks of you.
Q: Give me an example.
A: Okay, so you’re having drinks at Luna Lounge. Send us a text message telling us where you are and we’ll send out a text message telling all your friends where you are AND send you back a message letting you know if any friends-of-friends are within 10 blocks. If you have a camera phone, we’ll even send you their picture.
Q: So, how do you know who my friends are?
A: You need to tell us wo your friends are, just like you did with Friendster.
This type of social networking will most likely phase out as just a bad fad.
Lucky for the rest of us, Dodgeball is only available in New York.