Evri helps users personalize and track real-time updates on the topics they’re interested in. That’s cool enough, but it doesn’t get a startup millions of users overnight. Now the three-year-old San Francisco-based company is trying to build distribution with a new mobile strategy, and will launch five Android and iPhone applications that drill down on specific content interests: celebrity gossip, technology, baseball, football and rock music.
On Thursday, when the apps are scheduled to be released as part of our Mobilize conference in San Francisco, a user who is really interested in the newest paparazzi shots and celeb scoops could download and customize the “EvriThing Top Gossip” app to meet her needs. She could choose to hear about everything the Kardashians do, or all news related to celebrities and substance abuse, and Evri will find and tag those posts in real time based on topic analysis rather than just simple keyword search. So instead of loading up TMZ when she’s on the go, she could get an aggregated view of what lots of gossip sites are saying. She can also read all the latest related tweets. Most of Evri’s news items are snippets or thumbnails that direct mobile users to load the full story within their phone browser, but there are also full stories from the Associated Press, full pictures from Getty Images and videos transcoded for mobile from blinkx.
While the Evri app design currently hurts my eyes a bit (the dark, bold, background colors are overwhelming), I think this idea holds a lot of promise. As we’ve seen with Flipboard, the revolutionary iPad content consumption app, creating a personalized news experience for a mobile device makes a ton of sense. The technology Evri has built — a real-time discovery engine — is exactly the kind of thing to make this good (Flipboard bought Ellerdale to do similar stuff). Evri CEO Will Hunsinger emphasized in an interview that Evri’s strength is building and maintaining topic areas that are richer than any single subscription to an outlet of content. Checking out Evri’s “Top Tech News” app made me totally crave a good mobile app for Techmeme, my news aggregator of choice in that category.
The premise of launching specific category-based apps is a bit of a slippery slope; there are already way too many boring and lightly skinned clone mobile apps out there that provide little value to anyone. But potential users who are obsessed with the Kardashians are probably much more likely to download a new gossip app than some geeky general content discovery app. Hunsinger said category-based apps are a strategy decision that he and lead investor Paul Allen of Vulcan Capital have debated at length. They plan to see how these first five do and adjust as needed.