A new app called Pheed has taken iPhone by storm, replacing Facebook and Twitter as the No.1 most downloaded free social networking app.
"I think it's a little bit surreal," Chrysta Olson, director of communications of the start-up, told TheBlaze in a phone interview.
(Image: Apple App Store screenshot)
Pheed -- currently available for iPhone but an Android version is coming soon -- is a new social media platform that officially launched in November 2012. According to its website, it "enables users to create, inspire and share texts, photos, videos, audio tracks, voice-notes and live broadcasts."
In short, Pheed creators pulled together what they liked from the many social platforms out there -- Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, etc. -- and put it into one place.
"I think people are getting overwhelmed with how many sharing options there are for content online," Olson said about why she thinks Pheed is being so well received. She noted that people only want so many apps on their devices and all these social media options add up.
Pheed is also one of the first of content sharing platforms to allow users to copyright their work. Olson said they have a button that will instantly put a watermark of the user's name on the content.
Pheed started as a self-funded effort and it doesn't have advertisers either, Olson said. So how does the company expect to make money? Here's where another novel idea comes in -- users can sell their content through the app if they wish. It is from here that Pheed would take a portion to generate revenue.
Although Pheed is entirely free to join and much of its content is free as well, Olson explained that users can opt to sell their content either by putting all of it behind a paywall or use a pay-per-view system. They get to name their own price too.
An example Olson offered was a gentleman who give gadget-making tutorials. Interested viewers have to pay $39.99 to get access to all of them. A pay-per-view example would be if Mike Tyson, who Olson said recently joined Pheed, would have users pay $1.99 to see a fight through the app.
"We want to be the toolbox," Olson said. "We have no idea how creative people will get."
But just what is making it so popular now? As Ilya Pozin wrote in a post on LinkedIn, it might have only taken a few tweets by popular teens on Twitter to get the app to its current top tier status:
Apparently, a few popular teens with large Twitter and Instagram followings discovered the app, tweeting about it late Monday night and yesterday morning, and spawning teens from all over the US to open Pheed channels. Among these, the instigator was a girl by the name of Acacia Brinley, who tweeted '@Pheed sickest app' sending thousands of teens to open Pheed channels within minutes.
When I asked Pheed's CEO and Co-Founder OD Kobo for a comment, he chuckled, just shaking his head in bewilderment: "I feel like the only metaphor that describes accurately how I feel is the little engine that could, as it's against all odds... we're this self funded startup with no VC funding... while our competitors raise tens of millions, we're just this small team of people, and Pheed is being accepted by the community. All I can say is we are happy that people are being so accepting. It means a great deal!"
In a Twitter conversation with a supporter -- yes, Pheed seems very active on Twitter, engaging in many individual discussions -- Pheed said its success at the current moment is due to the featured product itself, its community and timing.
Olson told TheBlaze the uptick is surprising also because the app stopped accepting new users for a month at the end of December so they could test and conduct quality control measures to make sure it was going in the direction the creators wanted. That one month doesn't seem to have dinged it much in the app popularity contest, since it has been No.1 on Apple's chart for the past nine days, according to Olson.
Listening to customer feedback and improving the product is, in part, what Olson thinks is making the app so popular now.
Pheed, like Facebook, is not intended for users under 13 years of age. TheBlaze has reported on the seedier underside of social platforms like Vine and Instagram, but Pheed does not allow "nudity." That said, the app has safety filters:
“None” - The content that will appear on your timeline, search and browse will have no restrictions allowing you to view ratings of G, PG, PG-13 and R.
“Moderate” - The content that will appear on your timeline, search and browse will be limited to ratings of G, PG and PG-13 only.
“Strict” - The content that will appear on your timeline, search and browse will be limited to ratings of G and PG only.
The YouTube channel The Daily App Show reviewed Pheed a couple months ago. Take a look and see how the app works:
This story has been updated to clarify Pheed's policy regarding adult content.