A Social Net You Can Bring Out to the Bar

BuzzD Is the Latest Mobile Venture From Ipsh Founder Nihal Mehta

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Want to know how long the line is outside your favorite club on a busy Saturday night? Or the guy-to-girl ratio at a bar before you pay the cover?
BuzzD has partnered with guide publisher Time Out to list events and hot spots.
BuzzD has partnered with guide publisher Time Out to list events and hot spots.

That's the promise of BuzzD, a new local-search/networking service from mobile pioneer Nihal Mehta. "It's the next generation of the mobile internet," said Mr. Mehta, who founded text-messaging company Ipsh and sold it in 2005 to Omnicom Group in one of the first holding-company mobile acquisitions.

The service is initiated through text messaging and gives users the lowdown on social venues in real time from their peers. Sending a message brings the user to a mobile website with friends' critiques, ratings of drinks and other information on social venues.

BuzzD launches this week in partnership with Flavorpill, a website that lists cultural events in major cities. Flavorpill Mobile initially will be available in six cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and London. BuzzD also has partnered with another guide publisher, Time Out.

Helio is expected to be the first carrier to offer BuzzD, but Mr. Mehta said he plans to make it available on all the nation's major carriers.

Nokia's Nseries is sponsoring the launch. "Nokia looks at the mobile device as more than a device to make phone calls," said Camilla Pagliarolia, communications manager, Nokia U.S. The Flavorpill and BuzzD combination "uses the phone as a creative platform. It's a good fit for us," she said.

Generating revenue
BuzzD works without information about a user's location but eventually will add a GPS, Mr. Mehta said. While there is evidence that popular location-based services, such as mapping applications, are generating good revenue for carriers, it's still unclear whether location-based mobile social networks will do the same.

The Walt Disney Co. shut down its branded phone that allowed parents to locate their children. Boost Mobile said 171,402 subscribers use its Loopt service, which allows young adults to locate friends. Sprint, provider of the network for the Disney and Boost Mobile phones, has a similar location service, but a spokesman said Sprint does not share information about the number of subscribers using that service.

Roger Entner, senior VP-communications sector, IAG Research, said he's not sure the idea will work. "If I'm having a bad time, I might take the time [to write a review or critique the scene], but if I'm having a good time, probably not. That sounds like serious work at a time when I'm having fun."

Mr. Mehta said the concept has proven itself with Dodgeball, another mobile social network. "If you're having a good time, you want to connect with your friends," he said.
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