Ello is a new social media network whose most attractive feature is that they tout themselves to be ad free. Their ‘manifesto‘ [yes they actually have one], states that they don’t believe you are a product. So your information will never be sold, scanned, or used to manipulate you.
And I am TOTALLY behind that. So keep in mind that while I love this idea, the review you are about to read comes from a purely cynical standpoint.
Ello, Welcome to the 1990s
Ello rolled out its Beta only a short while ago, so there is a certain amount of rough around the edges that you’d expect. Its minimalistic style is attractive in this age of splashy and distracting. Its UI isn’t terribly complex, but it’s fairly direct.
However, despite these attractive sides, Ello is missing some aspects that the average user assumes any Social Media Platform [SMP] will come standard with. You can’t currently privatize your account. Private messaging is not currently enabled [or built in]. And to find new friends or folks to follow, you pretty much have to know exactly who you are looking for.
From a purely tech standpoint, this platform leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the ‘fast’ elements you expect these days, say posting by hitting ‘enter’ for example, aren’t there. There’s a tiny little arrow on the bottom right you have to click to post. You can however click ‘tab’ when commenting in reply to someone else and it will auto select the ‘comment’ button for you. But why have this feature enabled only on Comments?
Streamlining is a big part of today’s SMP, especially when most folks utilize these via their mobile products. And Ello is not currently mobilized. It is on their list of coming features, as are many of the things I’ve said they currently lack. But the sad part is that this is a BETA that doesn’t encompass things that most folks assume would be standard.
Roll outs are supposed to have the new and shiny. And Ello doesn’t have that.
Hope for Ello
While Ello does seem to be lacking in the tech department, in this day and age of 1984 and Facebook mind games the attractiveness of having a social media site built to preserve and protect privacy is an attractive thing. The question is, is it enough to make this a thriving concern?
The bigger they get, the more money they are going to need. They aren’t going to use ads. Which is an A+ for them. But how are they going to support themselves?
The information Ello collects includes your location, language, referring web site, and time spent visiting Ello.
This information is anonymous and aggregated. Before information about you is stored on the Google servers, your IP address is stripped and anonymized. This means that it is very difficult for anyone (including Ello and Google) to trace the data that Google stores back to any one user. We can see how people are using Ello in general, but not what you are doing in particular.
To the best of our knowledge, this also makes what you do on Ello useless to Google for advertising purposes. – Ello
Right now, the plan as posted on their site seems to be following the idea of pay for features. Think in-game purchases in a free game and you’ll have their business model. The nice part is that once you pay ‘the small fee’, you keep that feature on your account forever.
That is a great idea, assuming their upcoming roll outs have enough support to get them the money they need to keep themselves going. And, it allows you to only get the features you really want/need/desire.
But while they say ‘small amount’, they don’t have any price points listed. Everything that their site says seems to be very obsequiously ambiguous towards how much you are paying for this private utility. And that right there is going to be a big problem towards them going mainstream.
Ello May Change Social Media
All these picky complaints aside, Ello stands a good chance of keeping out the social media charlatans. After all, if they can’t really use it to sell to you, why bother?
And, if the market share drops as people become more and more disenchanted with the whole ‘you are the product’ business strategy of the big SMPs, Ello might have a real chance to be a huge going concern.
However, I’ve seen a few other SMPs start up and drop into the dark of disinterest. Most of them had the same admirable goals as Ello. And I can’t even begin to think of their names. Oh I remember what they look like, and to be fair I’m terrible at names. But the thing is…I don’t remember them. I still remember the first blogging site I ever used. And I haven’t touched it in about 7 years.
If Ello can cross over to the mainstream using this concept of privacy as their main sounding board, they stand a chance. And if they get that chance, advertisers and ‘social media douchebaggery’ is done. And that’s not nothin’.
UPDATE 9/26/14 16:19: Aral Balkan, the source of the ‘manifesto’ Ello is based off of, has outed them for using venture capital. This means that the company will eventually be sold, leaving users in the hands of a company who probably WILL sell their info.