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Send Photo to Random User App: The Short, Serendipitous Life and Untimely Death Of Antisocial Photo-Sharing App, Rando

Stashed in: Mobile!, Reddit!, @lizgannes, Monetization, Apps

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Great mobile app: upload a picture and then get an anonymous random picture from someone you don't know. 

Got almost a million downloads in a year thanks to regular Reddit spikes -- most recent spikes had 34k and 80k downloads -- but they had no way to monetize and script kiddies kept flooding the app with garbage pictures. 

So they've shut it down. 

Liz Gannes truly enjoyed the Rando app:

Rando is an “experimental photo exchange platform,” as co-creator Steve Bittan describes it. The app’s users submit photos cropped in the shape of a circle. Each photo is anonymously delivered to exactly one other user. In return, the sender gets to see where it was viewed. He also receives a photo and location from a different Rando user.

The first time I used Rando, I was bored in a car late at night, and sent a picture of the winding road ahead. I got back a photo from Korea of a music app playing the song “Live Forever” by the British band Oasis. The other night, I sent a photo of what I was watching on my TV, and ever so coincidentally got a photo of a TV back from Japan. Yesterday, I sent out a picture of a bottle of juice and got back a portrait of a golden retriever in France.

To be sure, most Randos are nothing special; just tiny glimpses of a day in another smartphone user’s life.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a quick snapshot of humdrum existence,” Bittan said in a phone interview this week. “It’s voyeurism.”

I’ve written recently about seeking out apps that encourage more authentic communication, instead of the self-aggrandizing status messages and tarted-up photos people tend to post on Facebook and Twitter. With its minimalist one-way photo messages, Rando seems to fit the bill. Bittan said he thinks of it as “an antisocial app.”

“People are sharing so much content, and in a way it’s all the same content, whether it’s food or selfies or what you’re wearing today,” Bittan said. “Anything that glamorizes your life or is used to express individuality, isn’t, because everyone else is doing the same thing.”

Since launching in March, Rando has been downloaded more than 500,000 times, about half on iOS and Android, and a few more on Windows Phone.

The diversity of locations of Rando senders and recipients is probably the best part of the app — though if you download it, be prepared to see the map of South Korea again and again. South Korea accounts for about a third of users, followed by the U.S., Russia, Brazil and the U.K., according to Bittan.

Before I can ask, Bittan brings up “the Chatroulette problem.” He says inappropriate photos account for less that .5 percent of all Randos so far.

Here's a screenshot -- it looked pretty good:

Rando screen shot random user photo app

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