My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Open Garden's FireChat Viral Hit means Mesh Networking for Millennials

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Monday, April 7, 2014

How Open Garden's FireChat Viral Hit means Mesh Networking for Millennials

“Nobody manages this centrally. You literally can't shut it down”

Open Garden Sales and Marketing Manager, Christophe Daligault, commenting on the Viral Nature of FireChat

A new App, FireChat, has launched on Apple iOS was launched in March 2014 already it’s creating a sensation as noted in “Don't Blink! FireChat takes ephemeral messaging to whole new level”, published April 1, 2014 4:00 AM PDT by Nick Statt, CNET News has basically resurrected Napster’s concept of P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Networking.

Why?

Because it’s the first App whose popularity is literally, spreading on Apple iPhones like a virus, even at a rate that showing signs of eclipsing WhatsApp’s 1 million new users per day! And it’s not even on Android!


Current stats for the FireChat App created by two year old Startup Open Garden read like an Advertiser’s dream:

1.      1.14 users per second
2.      98496 users per 24 hour day
3.      100,000 downloads a day

It’s already the top Downloaded app in the following countries according the article “FireChat sees 100K app downloads a day with a huge uptake overseas”, published MAR. 26, 2014 - 5:27 PM PDT by Kevin Fitchard, Gigaom:

1.      Germany
2.      Belgium
3.      Israel
4.      China
5.      Australia
6.      Taiwan

Plans are afoot for an Android App and picture sharing, as Android smartphones (surprise) don’t have P2P (peer-to-peer) Protocols built in.

When that happens, BBM will have a baby Brother that may eventually switch on a VoIP Chat Service that doesn’t need Cellular Service to Send Voice Notes and create ephemeral conversations as noted in my blog article entitled “BBM 2.0 now with Voice and Dropbox Integration – WhatsApp beaten for sure as Free File Sharing and Voice Calling result in BBM Transcendence on Android and iOS”.

Close the app, and all records of your conversations disappear, a lot like Snapchat. However, because of the random, unidentified and uninitiated nature of the contacts made, it’s also a lot like Whisper and Ask.fm as described in my blog article entitled Ask.fm, the new Q&A Social Network popular among Millennials and Tweens is connected to Teen suicides - You Don’t have to answer every question as your Ask.fm friends are not you Drinking Buddies”.

But how does FireChat, a close relative of Snapchat, with a dash of the anonymous Whisper as described in my blog article entitled “Whisper, the Anonymous Secret Sharing Social Mobile Network - Confession of Awkward Moment being revealed fuelled by the desire to Bare your Soul to Strangers, work exactly?

Apple’s Multi-peer Connectivity Network – Napster-esque P2P Mesh Networks for Millennials

The app takes advantage of Apple iPhone’s little used Multi-peer Connectivity Network to basically create peer-to-peer Networks of persons chatting in real time to each other. Apple’s Multi-peer Connectivity Network basically allows any two Apple iPhones to communicate sans a Telecom Provider’s Network, be it 3G/4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) or even GPRS (Global Packet Radio Service) or EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution).

It instead seeks out connectivity to another Apple iPhone or other device running the Multi-peer Connectivity Network and connects via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or any other Connectivity standard, so long as a strong signal is available.

However, if the Apple iPhone it is connecting to a 3G/4G LTE or even GPRS/EDGE Network, it will use that to further its reach, allowing the P2P Network to be global. Effectively, this is a Mesh Network, which ironically is a potential Network Methodology being researched in Australia to connect many in the Outback to Broadband Internet as described in my blog article entitled Digicel and Wimax 4G Mobile - the Great Australian Outback”.


To this end, it’s a local P2P (peer-to-peer) Network with a global P2P reach, sorta like Napster but for the smartphone. Thus it allows locally connected groups of persons communicating via Multi-peer Connectivity Network using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to have casual conversation with perfect strangers connected via Multi-peer Connectivity Network over 3G/4G LTE or even GPRS/EDGE. Simply put!

At this rate, it’s already on its way to beat out SnapChat, which buried Facebook’s Poke as noted in my blog article entitled “Facebook gets Mission Impossible serious with Poke as the Snapchat bringing “Sexting” back”.

Imagine what will happen when Open Garden, the makers of FireChat, releases their API (Application Interface) and SDK (Software Development Kit) to allow Developers to design their own Apps and Games for the Platform. This is the same Open Source Strategy used by Ontario, Canada based Kik as described in my blog article entitled “Kik hits the 100 million member mark - Open Source Mobile Rise of the Planet of the Apes for Mobile Social Networks to develope smartphone OS Defense Against the Dark Arts of Google+”.

Worse when they allow picture sharing, as that’ll make the “Everyone”, Room, a shared chatroom of eighty (80) Random strangers within the country, explode with a riot of picture sending that I predicted will best Snapchat's 350 million self-destructing pictures as noted in my blog article entitled “Snapchat now racks up 350 million shares of self-deleting snaps per day - Millennial Girl’s Litmus Test for Friends and future boyfriends”.

Mesh Networking is Back – WhatsApp potential rival as Open Garden tames the Beast

Open Garden arrived at the 80 chatroom size cap at random, when they realized that the Mesh was growing out of control. Thus, this implies that they DO INDEED HAVE some means of centrally controlling the Mesh Network, despite the insistence of Open Garden Sales and Marketing Manager, Christophe Daligault stating a lack of centralized Server Control, quote: “Nobody manages this centrally. You literally can't shut it down”.

Most likely they control FireChat via virally spreading updates and backdoor IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Protocol Commands, also spread via the Mesh Network they’ve created. The speed of the spread of commands to make changes or fetch analytical Stats may not be as fast a Client/Server based Network Topology, but it also reduces the need for huge Server investments.

This Network could be literally be managed by a powerful enough array of Desktop computers and Mainframes, all merely sending updates and instructions over the Mesh Network. This isn’t a new way to communicate, mind you.

Rather, it takes advantage of a long forgotten fact; most smartphones ALREADY had the capability to communicate directly with each other. It was just ignored as for one, it wasn’t seen as being as reliable as IM (Instant Messaging) that’s Internet based Communication over Telecom Networks.

But it has the advantage of being able to facilitate Communication where none may be possible. Countries that have censorship on Social Media Communications e.g. China and more recently Turkey blocking Twitter and YouTube as explained in “Turkey blocks YouTube days after Twitter crackdown”, published March 28, 2014 By Gul Tuysuz and Ivan Watson, CNN as well as in emergency situations where Telecom Networks may be down due to Acts of God such as Natural Disasters, Wars, Satellite Blackouts due to Solar Flare activity would love FireChat!

Latest update: For the record, Turkey has turned on Twitter as stated in “Turkey welcomes back Twitter”, published April 3, 2014 9:38 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News; not so sure about YouTube though!

Now that it’s clear that Open Garden has control, we await the arrival of their API and SDK for Android. Once that lands and applications are uploaded to the shared Consciousness that’s FireChat, prepare to see some exciting Applications. Mostly Games, probably ported from Android, are initially expected.

Advertisers will definitely jump on this, as it’s also a lot like Direct Targeted Marketing using Bluetooth-based as was the plan by RJR Communications Group to enlist the help of British Tech Company Bluewave to implement as stated in my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Advertising - Why is the Dog's Nose is Cold”.

But when they start making VoIP Apps, we might be seeing a P2P Rival to Facebook’s WhatsApp as described in my blog article entitled “WhatsApp VoIP Calling in Second Quarter of 2014 - WhatsApp kills International Calling at the Advent of Facetime-eqsue Premium Video VoIP Calling on smartphones” that can work even in the Australian Outback!
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