Poken are growing up?

Poken Me! It seems like just a few short months ago that I discovered Poken – neat little USB keychain devices which you can touch together when you meet someone else with one, in order to electronically exchange social network IDs and contact information. Actually… it was only a few months ago – we talked about them on Dogear Nation episode 88 in February, and in an example of serendipitous discovery, I picked one up a week later at Twestival in London. I immediately thought the idea was cool, but I was disappointed to discover how much they cost, and how few people had them.

I mentioned Poken in my presentation at SOMESSO a couple of weeks ago. Whilst I love the idea, I simply haven’t come across enough people who have a Poken to have made it worth my while. My basic comment at the time was that I felt they needed to make themselves more widespread in order to be useful. Since then, I’ve continued the discussion in comments on a couple of blogs. To quote myself:

However, I think there are a few issues…

  • [they] cost more than most people are prepared to pay for what is essentially a small capacity but cute looking memory stick, and they are not very readily available;
  • the cuteness factor can also be off-putting to some people, particularly those with a business purpose in mind and the disposable income to buy them;
  • too few core connectors and salesmen have them (see Gladwell’s The Tipping Point), IMHO they should seed more;
  • the value-add of the site (which actually manages the contacts) is low, so the business model is presumably centred on selling the devices.

I had yet another conversation about Poken at a tweetup in London last week, and again heard comment that they were too toy-like for business users, and too few people had them.

Well – things appear to be changing. For want of a better phrase, it seems as though Poken are going slightly more corporate.

In particular, I was delighted to discover that they are being used in a much broader context at IBM’s Information on Demand conference this year – shedding the cute image, and hopefully becoming a bit more widespread.

This is all great stuff. I engaged with the idea of Poken as soon as I heard about the concept, and I hope that I’ll be able to share and manage my information more easily in future. Maybe Poken won’t be the answer, but I’m glad to see the idea broadening out, and hopefully reaching a wider audience.

5 thoughts on “Poken are growing up?”

  1. Andy: I should add that I sell Poken in the US at http://pokenzoo.com, and even though they’re not very “business-like” I’ve taken orders from several companies (if you heard the names, you’d automatically think one or two of them were on the stuffy side) who want to pass them out to clients at seminars and meetings in order to be memorable.

  2. think that there may have been some people listening to you on the Poken story, Andy… getting more devices out there is now becoming more apparent. Kirk’s bought a box, and I’m getting one from him, so I’ll soon be a Poken family member too!

  3. I remember seeing them at LCTY in Manchester. I certainly see the appeal of the visual impact.

    However, on discussion on the wider use with Stu Downes, he made a good point; that why can’t mobile handsets carry out a similar function?

    Until recently many devices could exchange data via infrared (some perhaps still retain that functionality), and it was mainly contact details. Surely an adaption of the handset for this type of use may be the better answer to handling this type of data exchange in the future?

  4. Charlie, I agree with that. Most handsets now have Bluetooth and there’s no reason why this kind of function shouldn’t be built in there. I guess the issue is that every manufacturer would have their own way of doing it, and expect you to use their social networks for doing it. This is at least somewhat independent.

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