iubo – needs to get organised

iubo is a new UK site which is aiming to organise your entire life. That’s a very tall order. The idea is that you input all your data (contacts, photos, bookmarks, calendar, etc) and then iubo lets you search across all that data to create a useful service. iubo calls this ‘your own private Google’ for your stuff. In theory, once all the data is there, you could do a lot of things: project management, contact manager, bookmark manager, keeping track of collectables etc. The site has been co-founded by developer Joe Finnigan and site administration Lynne McCormick (both university students in Scotland).
However, there remains a lot of work to be done to make this site realise its goal. To add just one image I have to input the specific .jpg URL for one photo. This would take a lot of time as I must have thousands of photos by now, some online, some not. There is no hook-in to, say, my Flickr account via Flickr’s API. Again, to input just one contact you have to type in all the details. You can’t upload your VCF file. The same goes for bookmarks – no uploads. So the sparse interface reflects the sparse nature of the service so far.

This would be a harsh review of a service if they weren’t planning more, and it needs to be noted that iubo is still in closed beta and is a side project from two uni students. An email conversation I had with Finnigan confirms that they are in indeed thinking about further collaboration features and importing or exporting data from other sources. I guess we’ll have to wait just a little longer for those.

The revenue model will be some kind of targeted text ad system, which would kick in when user numbers get to some kind of critical mass, plus a pro account service, and an enterprise version. Though my counsel would be to focus on just one of those aspects and making that great. If they could do this, then there is a lot of potential here. Facebook (for example) sucks in a lot of user data but does not really deliver a great deal of value back to the user about that data, and this is going to be a hot space in the new year.

Funnily enough, collaboration and ‘personal search’ systems seem to be a favourite of UK startups at the moment. Phuser recently announced something very similar to iubo, while Nsyght is heading down the search route, and Huddle is focusing on enterprise collaboration. That’s to name just three.

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