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A Closer Look at Beijing Startup Foxfly


Foxflypro Logo2 A Closer Look at Beijing Startup FoxflyTired of status updates aimlessly scattered through cyberspace en masse, Foxfly’s Beijing-based team of 12 wants to provide a slightly more targeted messaging solution. Their Foxfly is a group messaging platform whose core functionality takes it beyond just group messaging, and now, they’ve introduced a professional version as well.

Picture 33 A Closer Look at Beijing Startup FoxflyPut simply, Foxfly is a group messaging mobile app – imagine Blackberry Messenger with Google+ groups. With the ability to target only who you want, users can send and share stuff intended for a smaller, more custom audience. They are planning on introducing a new, slightly different app called Foxfly Professional (now in private beta), which is designed to adapt their original service to a more professional environment to serve as a local Linkedin.

Picture 42 A Closer Look at Beijing Startup Foxfly

A sample Foxcard

Foxfly Professional uses Foxfly’s messaging platform to expand beyond just messaging.  In the professional version you can also organize events and exchange virtual business cards, called Foxcards, through the app. Further, it uses LBS (similar to Parallel Cities) to allow users to network with those they are really looking to connect with. For example, if you are at a networking event or business district, pull up Foxfly Pro to borrow the ear of someone in the crowd for an SMS one-on-one.

Foxfly Pro will be available for both Android and the iPhone, similar to its cousin Foxfly Messenger, which is currently averaging 300-500 daily downloads for a total of 11,441 total downloads thus far. From a global perspective, Foxfly is a true international startup: despite their Beijing origins, 62% of their users are English speaking, with the heaviest download activity in the US, UK, and Indonesia.

Foxfly also allows for custom identity management, allowing a user to customize the information shared about themselves to their associated groups. I could see a lot of potential uses for this piece of functionality, and have wished for it myself in the past. It’d be great if Foxfly could bring this filtering to individual fields shared between groups. For example, perhaps I’d like everyone to see my interests, but I’d only want my fellow techies to know about my Star Trek and World of Warcraft passions. Not me personally, of course, but I’m just saying – could be useful.

Foxfly messenger is available on iTunes or Marketplace. Stay tuned for the release of Foxfly Pro, or visit their website here and apply for the private beta.

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Beluga drowning as users defect to Foxfly and other group messaging services

Despite the wake-up call from TechCrunch made a few weeks ago by MG Siegler, Beluga has not yet made any improvements in their service. Over the past week we have received a growing number of messages like the ones below, lamenting Beluga’s slow push notifications and dropped messages.

Great app! Very prompt and timely. Push notifications are timely as well and it doesnt loose internet connection every 5 seconds like some other apps Ive used (beluga). Thank you guys for the free texting/chat! Keep up the good work!!! – Russel

I use Foxfly. Don’t get any notifications at all anymore from Beluga.  – Etoh

While Facebook’s acquisition was the shot the rang ’round the world for the messaging industry, it now seems as if Facebook may really have “harpooned it in the head” as Siegler put it. This is turning to be a boon for Foxfly and other group messaging startups that have risen in its place, as users now hooked on group messaging, are turning to alternative options.

However, although the whale in the room has all but left, another elelphant stepped into its place when Apple announced the inclusion of iMessage in its iOS 5 at its most recent WWDC event. iMessage promises all the features of group messaging apps – free push notification messaging, sharing photos and videos, typing notifications etc. Although there’s no indication of if/how they will include traditional text messaging or whether they will expand onto other platforms (as BBM is planning to do), Apple has made overtures about entering the social networking race with the release of Ping last fall, and group messaging seems like the perfect beachead to do so.

News lit up with Twitter users singing the death song for group messaging startups after Apple’s shocking announcement. However, iMessage is still a ways away from replacing the current multi-platform, text messaging enable platforms available today. While there likely will be some impace as iPhone to iPhone messaging moves to iMessage, users are likely going to continue using the platform that makes it the easiest to reach ALL their friends. For now Foxfly and other group messaging startups are just trying to handle the flood of users that are rolling off of Beluga. Changes are certainly in works though as everyone waits to see what Apple’s next move will be.

Group messaging being adopted by enterprises


“Palringo’s platform, particularly the ability to create groups around specific customers, locations and business units, provides us with a highly effective way to approach customers with real business solutions. Our sales team has reacted with enthusiasm.”

Saw this article on how 3M has adopted Palringo group messaging platform for enterprise use. This is an exciting development and proof that group messaging is not a one-trick pony and is here to stay.

The appearance of groups in our lives is inumerous, indicating that we are only cracking the tip of the iceberg. Each type of group is going to require specialized features that will make it easy to start the group and share the desired information.

Some examples of groups include:

  • Work and study groups – Share documents, charts, spreadsheets
  • Sports teams/leagues – Share schedules, standings, rosters
  • Poker friends – Share winnings/losses, play poker online
  • Party friends – Share photos/albums, location

Can you think of other groups and the specific needs they have? Would love to hear from you.

Foxfly now available on Android AppMarket

Yes. That’s right. Foxfly is now available on the Android App Market. Over 2000 people have already downloaded Foxfly across various AppMarkets around the world. Why haven’t you?


Has our social graph shaped existing communication tools or vice-versa?

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Is our segmenting of friends into weak vs. strong connections actually a result of the limited communication tools to date?

As Paul Adams outlined in his presentation on the real social network, our connections can be roughly segmented into strong and weak connections. The communication tools available to us thus far seem to have been designed under that structure. We share private conversations one-on-one with our close friends, and interact through status updates, pokes, and comments with all the rest of our friends.

Group messaging brings on a whole new dimension by providing us with a socially acceptable way to keep in touch with people that previously were quickly relegated to our weak friend connection group.

Lets take a simple example to illustrate this, John has dinner with Ben and Ben’s two friends Kate and Joe. Using our current communication tools. Kate and Joe are Ben’s friends so its a little awkard to reach out one-to-one without going through Ben, so John elects instead to add Kate and Joe to his Facebook and they are now subject to John’s odd status update and photo album upload of his vacation in the Bahamas.

However, if John were to walk away from that dinner with Ben, Kate, and Joe in a group in his group messaging app, he would be a lot less reluctant to renew contact because he has saved the context where he met Kate and Joe. Reigniting communication with Kate and Joe outside of the dinner they shared thus becomes a lot more comfortable and easier.

Say John sees an article online that reminds him of a topic they debated that night, or a photo that relates to a joke they shared. Under current conventions, the barriers to that being shared are too high to make it worth it. 1-to-1 is out of the question. Sharing on Facebook results in a lot of friends guessing at his inside joke.

With group messaging sharing and keeping in touch with new friends becomes a lot easier. By extending the context or conversation where new friends are made, it enables all parties to continue interacting in a sociall acceptable way, until they feel comfortable with reaching out 1-to-1.

Foxfly v1.5 now with Free text messaging capability!

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If you haven’t yet heard, we recently launched an update on the AppStore that allows users to send free text messages to their friends.

Start a space and select up to 15 friends from your phonebook and send a message. The message will be sent through the Foxfly platform via text message direct to their phones at no cost to you at all.

Perfect for organizing parties and keeping in touch when on the go!

Download the latest version of Foxfly now and start messaging!