The pain of using multiple communication and social networking apps is real. Some of my friends prefer Facebook, whilst others choose Twitter. WhatsApp is a must because the whole world appears to be on it. Unfortunately, the list doesn’t end there; I also have Line and Skype for work needs and Snapchat for the fun live events I can follow. Oh, and let’s not forget LinkedIn (although I think the app is crappy).
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The possibility of having just one app which has all these nifty features seems utopian and far-fetched. Of course, the benefits are enormous – lower battery consumption, more storage space, and less multitasking. But each popular social app has its own endearing quality – Line has its stickers, Facebook its news feed, and WhatsApp its simplicity and ubiquity, which is why we’re not exactly seething with rage at the clutter on our smartphones.
The possibly impossible task of building one app to rule them all has now been attempted by RingID. The app incorporates a news feed, stickers, disappearing chat, voice and video calls, and messaging. RingID co-founder Ayrin Islam tells Tech in Asia that someone had to take the initiative to build an all-inclusive social app, so she did it.
So many ideas, such little time
Ayrin, a serial entrepreneur who lives in Canada but has Bangladeshi roots, has been in the telecommunications and IT business for the past 7 years. She started her own software development firm and quickly branched out into associated fields such as location mapping and data centers. After building several successful businesses, her newest focus is RingID.
"Nowadays everyone has to communicate with their friends, families, colleagues, or business partners through smartphones," explains Ayrin. "Personally I’ve had to download different apps to maintain my relationships […] I found it to be a hassle and a headache whilst also cramming up storage. I wanted to make something that suits all preferences."
RingID had a soft launch in July this year and now counts 275,000 registered users. Figures for monthly active users were not proffered. Ayrin claims growth has been mainly organic, with very little money spent on marketing. The majority of users are based in North America, but there’s significant growth in Indonesia, and South Asia is earmarked as a priority market for the startup. There’s version for iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile.
The sheer number of features embedded in the app have come at a cost, though. Ayrin says there are a total of 150 developers working exclusively on the project. Compare that to the 50 engineers WhatsApp hires for its 900 million users.
The startup is bootstrapped and funded by Ayrin’s other business interests. She says monetization is not a priority right now as they’re focusing exclusively on scaling the app. However she promises that "there will never be any ads." When pressed further on possible avenues for monetization, Ayrin admits it could be related to ecommerce and payments – similar to the Line model.
So why exactly should users ditch their existing apps and switch over to RingID? Ayrin says she’s not asking people to "ditch their apps," but exhorts them to try RingID and see for themselves how it’s different. "Over here, they get the best of everything," she smiles.
Main image by Barney Livingston