SXSWi: What Was the Killer App or Company At the Show?



SXSWi is over and while we’re still wondering what the killer app at the show was one can’t help but be overwhelmed with the noise. It’s also a lot of the noise that means there doesn’t seem to be a single app or company that launched at South by that could be considered the next big thing.

I once heard that success at South by depends on whether you can get people at the show Laid, Made or Paid. Location-based chat apps were going to be a killer app for the conference and the timing is just right. People are getting increasingly comfortable converting social network strangers to real-life acquaintances, and the “getting people laid” portion of the show will be much easier with location-based chat apps. While the idea is great, it really didn’t seem like location-based chat apps were doing much for anyone at South by.

Another issue with a lot of these apps is they weren’t all that cross-platform. Many of the apps at the show were iPhone-only, but not everyone has an iPhone. While iPhone was definitely the dominant phone at the show, BlackBerry was seriously underrepresented by companies attending. Our guest blogger Andy said it in his post:

But for those of us with BlackBerry smartphones, the new and promoted apps at this event were mostly out of our reach. I lost track of how many new mobile app companies who said, “it’s available on [x], but BlackBerry is on the roadmap…”.

As a BlackBerry user, you may think you’re missing out on something special but even most of the attendees I met were still using SXSW2010 apps to stay in touch (Foursquare for location and Twitter Mentions and DMs for updates). Group Messaging Apps didn’t seem to solve the main issue of the show which is a constant FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Foursquare has a cool trending feature but it doesn’t have any algorithms to make sure that the venues trending are actually worth being at. For example, a lot of people will checkin to the Hilton but that doesn’t mean you should be there.

While there didn’t seem to be any one particular app at the show that stood well above the rest, maybe that says something about what to expect for 2012. We’re seeing a huge increase in “app check-in” services that can monitor what’s trending and something like that could do a great job of navigating all the apps and services at the show.

Also, if you’re still convinced that group chat apps were the big that at South by, you may be interested to know that the folks at the Pop Agency believe GroupMe to be the winner.