December 28, 2014

34 Weeks of OHA: #25

Company Name: SkyPop

How the OHA site classifies them: Software Company

What the OHA site says about them: Next generation services for mobile devices.

What they do: Back in college we had something called Skypop. Basically, take a 1 litre of your favourite soda (A&W Root Beer), add a half litre of vodka or rum, and then drop in two tabs of … um … stuff. I remember a friend once sat down with a Skypop and watching the Dark Crystal; before long he was screaming at the screen about his Grandpa’s moustache and “The liquid pigs.”

This is much the same effect as what one gets when visiting the website for the mobile software company SkyPop. There’s a calculatedly amateurish animation in which some dude points his apparently SkyPop-enabled watch at a jungle revealing, in turn, an ancient Mayan or Aztec temple and a bathtub. There’s also a snake. And that’s about it. I was trippin’.

Trying to find any other information about SkyPop in the intertubes is a relative exercise in futility. There’s basically nothing out there. They’re all, like, secretive and stuff. This is apparently a marketing technique.

I did discover thet the company’s CEO and co-founder, Bruce Leak, ran the engineering team that developed the original Quicktime, and also co-founded WebTV, which was purchased by Microsoft and subsequently fizzled into obscurity. It was Bruce who delivered the blurb on the OHA quotes page, which is no help in deducing just what the hell it is that his company does:

We are excited to be part of the Open Handset Alliance and the next generation of mobile devices that it will empower. Android is the first platform that enables SkyPop to fully deliver on our vision of consumer services for the future of mobile devices.

What they bring to OHA and Android:

When the Android SDK was first released Bruce and Timo Bruck, SkyPop’s CTO released a video showcasing the results of their playing around with developing for the platform. This video was among a few others available on the official Android site.

The first result was a Soduku app. I was underwhelmed.

As a second example Timo gave us a taste of a game he developed which integrates location awareness and social networking. He doesn’t give much in the way of details; it’s something involving friends and enemies and their locations plotted out on a Google maps interface. It leverages instant messaging. It has swooshy graphics. I continued to be underwhelmed. Knowing the physical location of your friends is, frankly, the most banal use of location aware handsets that I can imagine. They claim it’s like a Tricorder, to which I ask “How?” Can it be used to scan the molecular composition of a rock or detect the makeup of gases in an atmosphere? No. Can it be used to analyze the damage done by a phaser blast? No. Has it ever been used as a prop in an over-hyped sixties sci-fi show? No. So, pretty much, it’s nothing like a freakin’ Tricorder at all; it’s just a lame-ass app for a mobile handset.

This might be the shortest OHA profile yet, ’cause I simply have nothing to say about these guys. There’s nothing out there. So I’m putting the call out to the troops. What is SkyPop doing for Android? Is there a reason I should be excited about these guys? If anyone has the inside scoop or an angle I haven’t considered, let me know. Shoot me an email.

Mystery is not enough. At this point, SkyPop holds the distinction of being the single least interesting OHA member. They’re even lagging behind Broadcom (ouch!).