It was named “the most useless app” while simultaneously being dubbed “genius” by others.  No matter how you look at it, it seems that its meticulously crafted PR campaign worked brilliantly.  Now, just as all the noise from its initial launch finally begins to settle, YO strikes again and is now on the verge of proving that it is not useless after all.

The company has just released a new set of features that expand our communication possibilities, while keeping simplicity at its core. The company announced that users can now swipe a YO to reveal the profile of the sender including their photo.  Apparently the company finally understood that users can’t really be sure who is behind a given username while they try to determine if they should reply or not.

We can also attach links to YOs, sending friends a quick reminder to take a look at specific media.  While this is nice, the company still requires us to copy/paste the link as an attachment. Something that’s a far more streamlined process on WhatsApp.

Perhaps the most interesting feature was their developer API. YO says that websites, blogs and other outlets can now quickly integrate their API into YO, thus sending quick announcements to their subscribers.

Now we’re talking

By releasing these features, YO takes Twitter’s real-time, 140 character law to the next level: instant notifications that “something’s up.”  While Twitter plays in the realm of what’s going on around a user right now, it seems that YO wants to take ownership of the “important notification that I must receive right now.” A few weeks ago the YO launched a mini trial when it told users they can subscribe to their server and get a YO when the server is down.  And then it took it up a notch.  In its website, the company uses the example of REDALERT YO created for the citizens of Israel.  Users are able to be notified when a siren goes off, signalling the civilian population within a targeted area to take cover in bomb shelters. How’s that for an “Important notification you need to know right now?”

There’s another factor to bear in mind, though. In its rapid expansion to businesses that look to send users alerts very quickly, the mindset of “immediate importance” may face a challenge.  Generally speaking, a good app takes control of a certain mindset users have.  There is a decision making process that users go through internally, no matter how quick, before they decide to use a certain app.  For instance: “real time updates” belongs to Twitter, “looking awesome” belongs to Instagram and “affordable places to stay” is taken by AirBnB.  With the release of important notifications that the company exhibited, it looks like YO wishes to occupy the territory of “important notifications that I must look at right now.”  But attaching real time notifications to outlet sales could prove to be rocky unoccupied territory to try and conquer.

Also Read: Echelon 2014: 9GAG’s success is no laughing matter

Nonetheless, the one button notification mechanism is making its mark and the company continues to prove itself valid. Will it carry on to become part of the billion dollar club? In an analysis that I made regarding the 5 patterns of the billion dollar club, YO is definitely following a few of the required trends to do so. The elements are there. It’s going to be fascinating following YO to see how it plays out and whether we have another Unicorn on our hands.

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