A Powerful Insight from Highlight

Highlight launched in early 2012, generated unsustainable buzz prior to SXSW, and entered a “quiet period” after everyone realized mobile battery performance was too valuable to spend unwisely. As is the case with new mobile products, I road-tested Highlight and subsequently erased it from my iPhone after a month. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. For a v1 product, I thought it was brilliant. Even the ability to “pause” highlight during times was well thought out. After a month away, I reinstalled Highlight and have basically kept it “on” every since, coming up on two months now. My use of it hasn’t been earth-shattering, and the app hasn’t required me to do anything special, and I have met some interesting people on it. And, after this second time around the block, I’m starting to see the bigger idea that Highlight (or other similar apps) could tap into — Push.

Here’s my logic: Back in the day, Google gained leverage by capturing our intent through search. We would hunt and peck for information, and Google delivered it to us. Then, when people with identities (or pseudonyms) came online into various social networks, the act of curation or the power of discovery grew in importance, making sense of the “mess” of information around us and offering “delight.” Today, and in the near future, mobile-specific services that are “always on” and run in the background could provide that next big delivery mechanism, pushing relevant information to us based on the strong API support from the handset makers and mobile operating systems, as well as information based on context, such as location. Today, Highlight periodically tells you when someone who is a second or third order connection via Facebook is around you, but in the future, a service like Highlight could tell you when your friends or colleagues are around, or when you’re nearby a store you love that’s having a sale, and so forth. That is a massive shift from the hunting and pecking we still do on our mobile phones and tablets — and more importantly, it’s a shift I’m looking forward to as a user.

Haywire is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2014 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus