in General, Tech


I was excited to discover Meetro last night. But now… not so much.

Meetro is an IM client that interfaces with AOL, ICQ, Yahoo, and MSN. But Meetro doesn’t stop there, and goes on to add their own IM service. The key is that the Meetro service is “location aware”. Enter your location’s address, and your buddy list fills up with people physically near to you. From there, you browse the users’ profiles to find those with similar interests. Strike up a conversation and voila, you’ve got a new friend to hang out with.

As a new transplant to the Huntsville area without a social group, this core functionality really excited me. An easy way to meet like-minded people!

However, Meetro has an achilles heel – nobody uses it. Or at least nobody in my area. At first I thought the client wasn’t even working – “within 1/4 mile”, “within a mile”, “within 5 miles”, and “Other Locals” were all showing zero results. I had to broaden the last category substantially to find anybody. The nearest person I’ve seen online so far is 146 miles away, and there are only five within 300 miles.

Which brings me to my point: I think there are simply too many options out there. AIM, Yahoo, ICQ and MSN have the market pretty locked up. How can a newcomer break in? Users established their preference long ago. Enabling Meetro to connect to these older services was a step in the right direction, but the key question is how to convince users that they need this extra functionality. They’ve gotten along just fine without it so far, after all.

Even when a user does venture into something new, how are they to pick an option? Google Talk? Meetro? Service XYZ? There are too many options for any newcomer to reach the critical mass of users necessary for success in a collaborative environment. A company almost has to be first to market, even if not the best – imagine if there were half a dozen capable alternatives to Flickr. They never would have gotten the user base necessary to justify continued development and improvement of service.

A site or service needs users to get users. I don’t tend to be an early adopter who sees this process firsthand, and so would be interested in a case study on how to successfully grow a user base.

Meanwhile, I’m crossing my fingers that Meetro catches on. But not holding my breath.

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  1. Hey Chad,

    Thanks for your comments. Couple of comments sprang to mind after reading your post:

    1) If you want a userbase in your area, you should stay online and invite your friends. We have a working userbase in Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco because of this kind of user behavior, and this kind alone. It has to start somewhere. Granted, we could make it easier for you to do so — and we’re working on that. 🙂

    2) Meetro is location aware in more ways than one. If you are connected to a wifi access point that we recognize, for example, we can pinpoint your location without any manual input. Likewise for GPS, and we are working on GeoIP functionality.

    3) I’m surprised that you or anyone would ever consider there being too many options out there. If there were only one or two options, development and innovation would stifle and suffer as they do in any monopolistic situation, open-source software included. In fact there ARE half a dozen “capable” alternatives to flickr. Photobucket as I understand has twice as many users. I’m sure the photo-sharing service war isn’t over, or has yet to even begin.

    Community-building takes time. Helping out makes it go faster.

    Cheers Chad,
    -Wendell (President, Meetroduction)

  2. Great to hear from you, Wendell!

    Perhaps I came off a bit harshly/unclearly. I do really like the concept, and wish you the best in succeeding. When I say there are too many options, I mean from the standpoint of a company trying to establish itself as a major player. Standing out and convincing Joe Schmoe on the street to give Meetro a try could be hard.

    And I have put up a couple of Meetro posters in the area, and have remained connected. Really hoping it works out! I’d invite my friends, but I just moved here and don’t have any in the area yet 🙂

    I also wasn’t aware of the wifi functionality. Very cool!

  3. Hey, no worries. 🙂 Just making sure the facts are clear, and to let your readers know that we DO think it’s possible. We wouldn’t be trying so hard if we didn’t believe that completely.

    Cheers Chad,

  4. Excellent post, Chad. If I had my IM blog up now, I’d link to it.

    I’m surprised Meetro still has such a small user base. The best tactic for a social network is, I agree, to build on existing networks.

    Lord knows we’re overrun with messaging protocols and clients. I had to tell Chris Pirillo about Gaim last week. Maybe he just never bothered checking it out, but the poor guy was running YIM, MSN, and AIM.

  5. Nick,

    Look for Meetro to soon support a few of the open identity standards. Once more of the social networks switch over to such standards, and we’re told that this WILL happen ( already has), “building on existing networks” is exactly what is going to happen.

    Exciting times ahead, oh yes. 🙂


  6. Hi kids!
    I read this post back in September and well, I dont recall meeting Chad online… I’m super excited about all the growth in userbase Meetro has shown. I hope you pop back on and gimmie a HI cause I try to connect in some way with ALL the users of Meetro. Share meetro with your friends before it becomes bigger than your(and meetroduction’s) wildest dreams!



  • Hidden Peanuts » Blog Archive » The Tyranny of Alternatives 11/1/2005

    […] going unnoticed in the mess. Wikipedia lists 17 separate IM protocols. A little over two years ago I tried using a new IM service, Meetro. Their main feature is the ability to see who is logged in physically near you. But nobody near me […]