News this morning that FriendsReunited, formerly the FindaKiwi locale, has re-branded, dropped subscription fees and put in place a whole heap of social media functionality. Reading between the lines I take it that there were nowhere near enough subscriptions to make the site viable (paying to join a generic social media offering – I don’t think so) and the backers want to to play Facebook catch up. Of course their reasons are different;

We have removed the single greatest barrier to increased communication between our members.

As many as 87 per cent of messages on the old Friends Reunited were never sent because of the cost of membership and we thought that was a great shame, so we have dropped the fee to encourage greater interaction between members but still with the same level of privacy that they enjoyed before.

Please be assured that, unlike other social networks, we will still never reveal you personal email address.

Sorry but it won’t work;

  • The horse has left the stable – those who have joined social networks already will view this offering as a down grade, those yet to join will go for the big players
  • I can even get a taste of the offering without registering – sorry but I don’t want to fill in lots of forms to check the flavour of a social networking site

FriendsReunited pitches their point of difference as;

We now have the timeline which is a way for you to record your life story – some events will already be added there for you such as the information from your My Places listings and you can choose to add your own personal events there which you can add comments and photos to and invite your friends to do the same.

You can also now create your own friends list by adding existing Friends Reunited members or by using our email address book uploader. You can then use your friends list to keep in contact with new and old friends more easily and to share certain parts of your profile with people who are close to you rather than every Friends Reunited Member

It is now free to use Friends Reunited, including the sending of all messages, making it far more interactive so you can truly connect with all the important people in your life and find people who were always listed but were harder to find. 

We now have a Privacy Settings section so that yo can choose who sees every part of your profile and you can even categorise people on your friends list from being ‘Friends and Family’ or ‘Acquaintances’ so that yo can differentiate which parts of your profile they can see.

Yawn!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

4 Comments
  • as a user of friends’ for some years now [5?] I’ve been a paying member, a user/lurker and maybe your missing a little…

    It’s reunited a number of my ex-pat rellies with friends they had 40 years ago when they left, it’s connected me back to kids I taught in the UK and to neighbours and whatnot from previous lives

    The cost was a barrier, but easily subverted: My bio reads “google me, the login, nickname or even my name will bring results], a friend had a profile picture with their email addy in it, and theres always the email at hotmail dot com route used by others.

    It’s not a johnny come lately to social networking IMHO, but more a build out on the gencircles ‘find my relative/family tree’ connect things, find someone

    AFAIK it’s also a kiwi built site that also uses some of the back end of trademe/findsomeone/circle of friends sites

    Admittedly your point about too little too late might be true, though the news [last month] has seen a great deal more traffic from me and the circle of friends I’ve found there…

  • Nope – that’s oldfriends.co.nz (some call it no friends) that is owned by tradeMe, friends reunited is owned by SchoolFriends World Pty out of Australia which I’m assuming is a holding company for the UK arm.

    Findakiwi Ltd and FriendsReunited Ltd (NZ companies) were both struck off the companies office register 4 years ago or so.

    The fact that it’s so hard to get the information about ownership is indicative of where it is headed…

    Also (and far far worse) is this – http://friendsreunited.typepad.com/friends_reunited/ – the Friends Reunited blog which had one entry in April and nothing since

  • not sure about ownership/IP really as there’s a real push from both the antipodes as well as the UK

    The domain .co.nz used to point to the UK site in the recent past

    But… that’s all immaterial. My point still stands I think, as a user it’s been useful, but reconnecting ‘old’ friends is the purpose of the site, not being on the latest social web 2.0 bandwagon. It might use the phraseology and banter but in the end it’s not facebook [current school/work colleagues] but family tree [history revisited and rekindled]

    there’s also the old world newspaper element of “i wonder if tracey turned out to be the trainwreck she was becoming at sixth form?” Friends’ lets you do that if the database has them and you in it.

    Revenue stream? not sure where that’s coming from though, maybe the hordes of ads and skyscrapers…

  • Falafulu Fisi |

    Anyone who joins a social networking site is a sucker/vain/naive and most of all they have a feeling of exaggerated self-important.

    Adrian, do you really need to join a social networking site in order to get in touch with friends (close or long lost ones) ? You can do that with email or cell phone easily and not necessary need a social networking site to hook you up with them. I can show you of how to use your email to make connections with your friends or perhaps show you how to put up a web page for you on yahoo with your personal detail so that Google finds your name and indexed it, where if your long lost friends Google your name, they will find your detail.

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