Today while watching TV I came across this new clever Etisalat ad about their new android replacement program, promising users new android phones in exchange of their current old phones. Listing all the features android phones have, features such Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and many other apps such as wasalny. Wasalny logo was displayed clearly long enough for me to see it and it made me wonder. Checking their website, I saw this banner, Wasalny being the only local android app they mention.
Wasalny is basically bey2ollak. They didn’t even care to think up of a new paradigm other than the one being used by bey2ollak. The main difference is the number of users, which is Bey2ollak real value, or any other socially driven app for a matter of fact. Until that critical mass of active users is achieved, the product quality doesn’t matter, since the main edge for such an app is always the user base. Wasalny is utilizing the gamification paradigm to stimulate users into contributing more often, by keeping a score board of the most active users and even promising gifts based on certain criteria.
Wasalny feels more like a finished product with a couple more features than Bey2ollak. However having checked it several times over a period of two days, I reached the conclusion that it doesn’t have the critical user base to make it useful. If I was working with them I’d have suggested copying statuses from Bey2ollak until that critical mass is reached.
It is a known fact that Bey2ollak is sponsored by Vodafone, and it is just starting to use the data treasure trove they have access to. Having just released a road assistance service accessible through SMS which Etisalat has no way of replicating since they don’t have access to the same data Vodafone does. No wonder they are sponsoring Wasalny and pushing it through its channels (TV ads and Website) I actually wouldn’t be really surprised if they sold their phones with Wasalny preinstalled.
If there is a lessons to be learned from this it’d be “Innovation pays on the long run”. Vodafone has already pledged a substantial amount of money for start ups earlier this year (thus becoming a de-facto VC), I expect Etisalat to follow suite quite soon.
Ok an update is long over-due however I’ve been resisting adding a new entry to the blog about the same two products so instead I’m updating the same post. Since I wrote the original post several interesting plot twists took place. Bey2ollak won the ebda2 award winning a cool $200k from Google, which was quite controversial since it was competing with actual startups that didn’t have the user base they’ve amounted over the years. This amount of money should have went into developing the concept further exponentially accelerating its progression.
$200k is roughly equivalent the average developers salary for 280000 months
For some reason the prize money had seemingly no impact on bey2ollak, continuing on their same track at the same exact rate of progression. On the other hand Wasalny now managed by social fruits had a sudden improvement in quality. The entire GUI was overhauled GPS was introduced and more importantly map overlays displaying traffic right on your map was introduced. User Experience wise wasalny is much more easier to use than bey2ollak, introducing GPS updates allowed it to harvest traffic data even if the users didnt input it manually, allowing them to overcome their limited user base problem. No longer do they have to rely on gamefication to convince their users to input traffic info (which they did at some point).
In a perfect world this would mean bey2ollak slipping into oblivion and wasalny assuming its well deserved position as the number one app for traffic assistance in Cairo. However that didn’t happen, The user base still loyal to bey2ollak, and perhaps the fact that its interface is quite basic and simple –once you get over the learning curve-protected it from losing its position, it may have used some of its user base but they all come back bey2ollak once they realize the difference in data quality.
Wasalny’s interface is better, but Bey2ollak’s data is more accurate.
I tried both for a couple of weeks, Wasalny interface is brilliant but the data is quite weak, with not nearly enough people updating it to make it relevant or up to date, bey2ollak on the other hand, as crappy its interface is has the most relevant user base. Perhaps the real problem is that they are both competing for the same set of users with not nearly enough new users joining (new users would definitely go for the better looking wasalny) over time though perhaps wasalny would be able to earn the sufficient user base needed to maintain an up to date data set, till then bey2ollak provides the most accurate data.