We had the privelage to spend some time talking to Yuval Hertzog, co-founder of Nubis, about Alphega.
1. What was your main objective or motivation for creating the Alphega mobile app?
Alphega started as a geeky experiment of trying to create an Windows Phone app that utilises EVERY possible feature on the phone – and ended up with what we later came to realise: the most advanced Augmented Reality GeoSocial visualiser in the market. We were even more surprised to find the huge commercial potential and market demand for this app – specifically, with the humongous tsunami the wearable device revolution is creating and about to hit the global consumer market middle of this year. This brought the motivation to drop everything else and focus entirely on taking this concept app and building a super-smart cloud platform behind it that will serve as a real-time, context-aware, geoSocial service to power the next evolutionary step of social networking in the wearable-devices era.
2. If you could describe the Alphega app in ONE word, what would it be and why?
Alphega in one word: “Engage!”. The entire concept behind Alphega is to tackle the growing divide between real-life face-to-face human interaction and online social networking – and merge those two worlds back again. Alphega enables people to ENGAGE in a richer interaction on both plains (virtual and real) by blurring the dividing lines between them and creating stronger social bonds.
3. What is the coolest or most innovative feature of Alphega?
Before Alphega, Augmented Reality Social Engagement existed only in Science Fiction or concept art. Looking through Alphega looking glass: the Socioscope, you can now see the online social updates around you, in the real direction and position it took place originally, and it’s all coming to life as you walk around and look in all directions. Facebook statuses, tweets, Instagram photos, foursquare check-in, comments, likes – the whole virtual world of social media comes out to life in your physical surroundings where you can almost touch it. Bringing this science fiction to today’s reality is what makes technology cool. This is also what Nubis (our company) mission is all about: The future is already here!
4. Could you share a challenging factor of the development or marketing process?
I assume that by “challenging factor” you refer to “hardship”. As a hardcore engineering team, technology couldn’t create hardships, only opportunities for fun. Customer acquisition, on the other hand, proved to be somewhat more challenging than expected. As a completely self-funded startup, the costs of marketing required to penetrate the social networking consumer market proved to be a lot higher than we estimated – especially on the Android market where the number of competing apps in that category is astounding, so it’s practically impossible for our app to get attention. Luckily for us, Microsoft invest heavily in their developers and have contributed tremendous resources to market our app on the Windows Phone marketplace – which helped us achieve substantial acquisition there and also created a very unique commercial opportunity that we didn’t anticipate initially.
5. Any unexpected surprises post-release of the Alphega app?
Our biggest surprise after the release of Alphega was the mixed acceptance of its concept in the market. We were getting outstanding responses on the quality and functionality of the app, won several awards and brilliant reviews, but a certain segment of the market referred to our app as “a stalker app”. The surprise there was that there was nothing “stalkerish” about it. The information presented to the users was only publically available social media in their location – based on their own social account’s privileges. There were absolutely no elements of mining hidden content or harassment of people’s privacy with unwanted attention. I can only guess that those who tagged us as a “stalker” app, had no idea that people have posted so much for the public to see.
6. Which operating system holds a larger user base: Android or Windows Phone?
Without a doubt, any bootstrap startup will agree that the Windows Phone market holds a much larger initial user base opportunity than any other platform out there. Even though the Windows Phone market is a tenth of the size of the Android one. And the reason for that is that only Microsoft put so much emphasis on pushing their developers to succeed – where on other platforms, you’re completely on your own at the mercy of traditional marketing resources or extremely lucky short-term viral campaign.
7. Are there any plans to iPhone as well?
We’re closely monitoring the direction Apple is taking in the mobile space. It is no secret that their current market cap is enormous and substantial – but the distribution of new devices to the market shows an astonishing decline of new iOS based handset to the market. With almost 80% of the new phones being Android, and over 10% (14% in some markets) being Windows Phone, iOS devices are barely being sold these days. With our limited resource pool, we are carefully considering our priorities and our plans to release an iOS-based app this quarter is slowly being pushed in favour of integrating another smart-glasses device after another. I guess we have growing demand to address the iPhone/iPad market and we do aim to fulfil it, but we currently can’t commit on specific time table.
8. What is your favorite mobile app to date and which have inspired you?
Each one in our team have a different favourite mobile app so it’s hard to generalise. Most of us use different news readers mostly to access Slashdot, Reddit and the likes. I guess the app that inspired me the most was Autodesk 123D Catch. It’s an app that creates a 3D model from photographs. Those models can then be 3D printed or used for CGI. The amount of super-advanced technology embedded in this niche app is simply unbelievable – and it’s so easy and basic to use that non-technical users probably have no idea what’s in their hands.
9. What features do you hope to roll out to the Alphega app in the future?
Alphega is consistently growing in few different directions simultaneously:
Additional Social Network integration and aggregation with the likes of Linkedin, Google+, Badoo, Line, WeChat, QQ, and many more.
Core functionality increasing the value-add for our consumers with contextual dynamic personal profiles, location based chats, GeoLocated topic creation and search, etc.
State-of-the-art engagement technologies such as face recognition, gesture controls, simultaneous language translator and other top secret ones.
This are only the stuff I can share. There’s a lot more planned that is going to blow your mind!