In our previous post on this topic, "Virtual Business Cards (Part 1): Would You InfoStripe?" , we discussed a new type of virtual business card - InfoStripe - where, instead of storing all your contact and social media details on a 3"x 5" business card, you only need to store one infostripe URL that points to them all.
Today, we'll introduce three (3) mobile apps that are vying to make business cards obsolete.
We discuss each in turn, below:
Bump mobile app (the larger picture can be viewed above), works on Android or iPhone smartphones. It's a cloud service which allows you to exchange contact details with anyone you bump your phone against.
How to Use Bump
1. You open the Bump app and enter your contact and other company details.
(Both persons intending to share information must have downloaded the Bump app from the relevant Android Marketplace or App Store and have the app open when intending to share contact details)
2. Bump or touch your smartphone phone (to/against) another, to share this information with someone else
3. Both sets of contact details are immediately shared.
Advantages of Using Bump
1. Allows for easy sharing of business and personal contact details with anyone else
2. It's a secure cloud service so none of your (contact) details are stored on your smartphone
3. The app is free to use for now, and its developers say it will always be free to use.
Disadvantages of Using Bump
1. Only works on iPhone or Android platforms...so if your intended to share your contact information with someone with a windows or Java phone, this app will not work
2. Will only work with someone who also has Bump app installed on their smartphone.
Hashable is being touted as the "best way to manage all of your important relationships on any device (mobile and desktop)".
It is a cloud service that allows you to organize your contacts based on common interests shared, and where you met these contacts.
These interests and locations are denoted by hashtags (#).
e.g. #WorkedForSameEmployer,#polobuddy,#LovesTacos, #footballmatch, #gwensparty
How to Use Hashable
1. Go to the Hashable website or download their app to your iPhone or Android phone
2. Enter your name, contact details and short bio into your site profile or upload this info from your LinkedIn profile
3. Search for associates, business contacts and friends to add to your Inner Circle, via Twitter and popular, free email programs such as Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail
4. Create hashtags (#) to describe your interests, your business and/or industry,favorite locations/hotspots, activities you did with people you met (e.g. dancing)
5. Send follow up messages to contacts (meeting and thank you notes,etc.) you've just met
6. Use the Hashable search window to search for other contacts based on hashtags you share in common;
(Hashable allows you to share up to 99 of your social network accounts).
Advantages of Using Hashable
1. You can easily share your contact information with anyone - even if they're not on Hashable
2. You can easily send quick follow up messages to contacts (e.g. meeting notes and thank you notes).
Disadvantages of Using Hashable
1. Both you and your contacts must have a Twitter account for this service to work, as Hashable indexes or stores your information based on your Twitter handle(e.g @gillipoo).
Cardcloud is a cloud service that allows you to share contact details by phone-to-phone or phone-to-email.
How to Use Cardcloud
1. You sign up for the free Cardcloud service either via their website or by downloading their app
(CardCloud works on both the iPhone and Android smartphones).
2. Enter your username as "Fname" in the name field, along with your last name.
3. Import your contact information from LinkedIn or Facebook.
(However, you still have to enter other contact details like your address, phone number, email address, social media network accounts and upload your company logo).
4. All this information is stored as your Cardcloud business card, which looks just like a business card, but instead, your contact information is stored virtually, as a virtual business card or vcard.
(They even give you the option of a "more" link on your vcard, so that potential contacts can learn more about your location)
5a. To share your information, just press the "share" button above your Cardcloud business card that appears on your smartphone
5b. Enter the recipient's' email address. Cardcloud will then remember the recipient and when, where and how you met him/her.
You can use CardCloud tracking service to find contacts within a 5-mile radius of your smartphone.
Advantages of Using Cardcloud
1. You can share your Cardcloud information with anyone, as long as they have an email address.
(They claim to offer phone-to-phone transfer of contact details, but no information is provided on their website re how this can be done).
2. Cardcloud remembers the context within which you met your contact (the location, when and how you met him/her).
Disadvantages of Using CardCloud
1. You have have to spend time entering your contact details, when this could easily be obtained from your Facebook or LinkedIn account
2. You really can't experience the benefits of using this card (e.g. the tracking feature) without using a smartphone.
(Although you can enter your contact details into Cardcloud, online, via a desktop, you really need a smartphone to access the "tracking" benefits of this app).
So will mobile apps rule the business card landscape?
I think they just might...especially in countries where smartphone usage is prevalent.
...Why spend hundreds of dollars to design and print business cards, when you can easily share contact details using your smartphone?
Please stay tuned for our final post in this series, when we'll introduce a new type of business card that is popular in New Zealand.
4) Article, "Smartphone statistics and market share", by Mark Brownlow, Email Marketing Reports, April 2012
5) Article,"Global Smartphone Device Market 2011-2015", via PR Newswire, April 2,2012
6) Article, "5 mobile apps that could kill business cards", by Martin Bryant, TheNextWeb.com, January 23,2011