Overview

In today’s society, you can message based on several aspects of your identity. You can message based on your phone number, email address, app account name, or even anonymously. Now there is an app to base your messaging by your car’s license plate: Karkoona.

KKLogin Karkoona is a messaging platform for commuters, travelers, errand-runners, and anyone else traversing the roadways. The idea is this: sometimes you want or feel the need to communicate with a fellow driver. Maybe you see they left their lights on? Do you see their pet in their car? Maybe they didn’t park so great. Maybe they just cut you off (hopefully you wait until you’re parked to tell them this). While you won’t likely be connected with these otherwise total strangers, Karkoona wants to give you the ability to reach out as a fellow motorist.

Setup

First off, download from Google Play. Upon opening the app, you have to register entering your country & state, email address, license plate number, and new password.

App Usage

Once in, you can choose from several actions.  

Messaging is the backbone of the app service. Naturally, considering we’re talking about messaging other drivers, one could presume some message content could be confrontational, angry, and abusive. To combat this, Karkoona has chosen to provide pre-written messages based on a number of message categories.

Another major feature of the Karkoona app is ‘upvotes and downvotes’, which work justKKMenu how they sound.  Receiving upvotes raises your standing in the Karkoona universe while downvotes drag down your rating.  These votes contribute to you receiving badges which display your good or bad behavior as observed by your fellow drivers.  

App Usage: Reality

Karkoona’s has a couple of major hurdles to be a great app.

The biggest issue is traction. To have a great messaging app you need strong adoption rates. Adoption breeds a community, which organically grows the user base by word of mouth. Unfortunately, there are very few users of the service as of yet.  And in my opinion, it’s going to be tough to get someone to open Karkoona when there are so many other options out there, ones that people they already want to talk to are already using.

The second is practicality. You wouldn’t just try to message a total stranger on Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts, would you? Of course not. But Karkoona wants you to send messages out to total strangers, with the only connection you having is a passing motorist moment.  It just doesn’t seem plausible (though, to be fair, the idea of us posting our daily routine and pics of our breakfast for all the world to see on Facebook probably seemed quite out-there years ago, too).

KKBadgeThe third is security. To sign up for Karkoona you need to provide your car’s license plate number. This may or may not be a security reach, but it’s simply unusual enough to likely be off-putting to a lot of folks. Also, reaching out to message another motorist that they cut you off seems, at least, a little risky in our days of consistent road rage incidents reported in the news.

Summary

I want to like Karkoona. It’s outside-the-box thinking to provide a messaging & community-building app around something we, as a civilized society hold dear: our cars. In fact, I think that if this had come around a few years ago during the infancy of Facebook, Twitter and the like, it may have had a fighting chance.  But given the state of this app market, the best Karkoona can hope for is a regional niche service.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I can think of more than one reason this app could flop. First they are basically encouraging people to text while driving :(. Of course I sure there is a disclaimer about that, but realistically when are you going to messaging someone about some that happened on the morning commute? Just seems like much effort to remember a tag or write it down message someone later that day about something that happened earlier that day. And really I could see where this would take stalking to a whole new level. Granted our tags are out there where everyone can see them, but with this app it now readily associates a person with that tag or wrong person depending on who set the app up and who if that day is driving the vehicle! Kudos on the 2.8 rating ;)

    • Hi Larry! I am the Android developer for Karkoona and I’d like to correct some misconceptions you seem to have about the app, since (as I’m gathering from your comment) you haven’t installed and used the app.

      Firstly, the app does not allow you to “text” anyone. All the messages are prefabricated (as to not allow swearing etc) to cover a wide range of cases. All you have to do is search for the vehicle you’re interested in (by voice, if you want and if you’re driving at the time) and then select a message from a list. We are also planning to make the app Android Auto-optimized so you won’t even have to reach for your mobile device.

      If you download the app and check the messages out, you will find that in most cases, it doesn’t make sense for someone to send them while driving (or makes equally as much sense to be sent from a pedestrian, which is what we hope will be happening).

      Moreover, you it is not possible for anyone to stalk you using Karkoona. We are applying heavy filtering and strict limitations on the number of messages a certain user can send to another (specific) user, especially so that stalking will not be possible (and so that no one abuses the upvote and downvote system).

      Finally, if you find that you license plates have been appropriated by someone else, you can claim them. Our team will investigate your claim by contacting you and will return your license plates to their rightful owner! In the worst case scenario though, someone will be sending prefab messages that contain no private info to the person that has falsely registered your plates (until you have claimed them), which again wouldn’t make much sense for them (I mean, do they really care that you left your car lights on? Or that you have a flat tire? We don’t think so).

      Thank you for your comment, we’re always happy to clarify what we’re about and what sort of safety precautions we have taken for your safety and convenience.

      Antonis.

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