ICOs have been actively adopting the blockchain technology in various industries. Most often, we see the decentralized solutions being implemented for finance and supply chain management. Social networking is a large part of virtually everyone’s life in the developed world today. Many interactions, be it dating, communicating with friends or networking on a professional level happen online. The new technology, which makes it unnecessary to have middlemen managing the interactions could not have found a better fit than social networking. IceBreakerAR is a social networking platform with exactly this in mind.
The project aims to revolutionize the way people network online. Although the established platforms have grown immensely in size, the way people interact on them has remained unchanged. IceBreakerAR aims to make it easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger. In that sense, it is probably closer to apps like Tinder, than it is to Facebook or Twitter. The way the project profiles itself is a tool to find new friends or professional relationships. Unlike Tinder, the application can be used for various purposes other than dating. In fact, the company lists its three main profile types as Dating, Networking, and Groups.
Dating works just like any other existing app. The users are matched based on their preferences and have the ability to interact with messages. On IceBreakerAR there is also the ability to give each other gifts that can be purchased within the app. Although this creates the need for a transaction unit, it is not clear if there will be demand for gifts in a dating app. An additional feature that distinguishes the platform from the others is the availability of an Approach Assistant, who will help people that don’t know how to approach strangers on the app. This service is also paid and creates a further need for a currency. It is also unclear if there will be many users resorting to the Approach Assistant.
Networking is a feature that allows people to get to know each other without the purpose of dating. People can create short resume type profiles, indicate their interest areas and they will be matched with other strangers they could want to network with. Monetization occurs here as well. The users are able to rate their interactions with other people. Those who have a higher rating will be able to charge for their time. The business need for this product is not clear either. If the platform was set up more like Linkedin, where people are networking to advance their careers, they might be willing to pay for it. Otherwise, it is doubtful that someone will want to pay just to chat with a likeminded person.
Groups bring people with similar interests together. It is possible for anyone with a profile to create groups and to find ones in the vicinity. It is a good way to find people to network with around you, but it does not offer anything innovative that would distinguish its services from the existing social networks.
The application uses Avatars to portray people unlike the traditional way of uploading pictures. Although the company sees this as an advantage of the platform compared to the other providers, it could put its services at a disadvantage. People consider pictures to be a big factor in the dating apps and their absence as the main image on the profile could lead to customers’ discontent.
Monetization of the Platform
A very interesting feature that could be a great source of income for the platform is the ability to reward users who watch ads or click on promotional banners. Advertising is the main source of revenue for the existing social network websites as well. Compared to them, IceBreakerAR will incentivize their users more to actually click on those advertisements. This will happen by giving them free merchandise, gifts, bonuses or leveling up their avatars.
Another feature of the platform that could be a source of revenue is the ability to partner up with retailers. Those merchants who offer the users of the app discounts at their stores will show up on the map within the application. The retailers will receive more customers in turn for the special offers. “Through this paradigm, retail marketing and brand activation will be taken to a whole new level by providing the platform for retailers to play a meaningful role in helping people develop connections. Retailers will be able to foster this by facilitating product and/or service purchases of special offers, limited items, collectible items and more,” – reads the whitepaper on this subject.
Use of Blockchain
Security is one of the benefits of putting the user data on the blockchain. It is a lot more difficult to corrupt a network of nodes than it is to hack a single database. The whitepaper of the project makes some comments on this issue: “Not only does blockchain make data tamper-proof, it is also hard to breach. Every “block” on a chain contains a certain amount of data, and when that block gets filled, much like a USB drive, it is encrypted and sealed forever.”
Other benefits of the new technology include the reduction in costs associated with maintaining a database, increased accountability and transparency as well as the GDPR compliance.
The project is a fresh breath of air in how ICOs approach the new technology. Social Network is a great use for the blockchain as decentralization offers great benefits for user privacy and transparency. IceBreakerAr does limit itself in some ways that will hinder it from becoming a truly global network. The focus of the app on dating and networking with strangers removes its appeal as a general communication network. Only a certain number of people will go online in order to find dates or likeminded people. Most people use social networks to interact with people they already know or have some relationship with. In addition, some of the benefits that the authors of the project outline are not as competitive as they could be. The use of a relationship assistant and the ability to give gifts on a dating platform could lack in popularity within the customer base. In addition, it was just over a decade ago that people switched from using avatars on their profiles to using their actual pictures. Bringing back the animated versions of people could not be as good of an idea as it seems.