Have you ever taken a matchbook from a place to remember it? I remember being a child and looking up at my uncle’s giant collection of matchbooks from bars and restaurants around the world, little packages piled up in a giant glass vase. It looked impressive, as souvenirs, but didn’t really serve any practical purpose.
A new free iPhone app launched this week called Matchbook It (App Store link), which wants to be your digital database of matchbooks. Think of it as like Foursquare or Yelp, except without all the distractions and complications of check-ins, reviews, social networking and everything else those services offer. Matchbook is just about bookmarking your favorite places.
When the app first launches, you can start adding locations by either searching the name of the place or by clicking the “im walking by it” button, which looks for nearby locations. (Since Foursquare’s API powers Matchbook, the dataset is entirely user-generated, for better or worse.)
Once you find the place you’d like to bookmark, you can attach a short note (200 characters max) and up to three tags. Then it’s automatically added to your list of bookmarks.
What makes Matchbook a joy to use, in the end, is its elegantly designed interface. From launch to search to the map to the bookmarks, the app developers have paid close attention to every aesthetic detail.
Matchbook development for Android and BlackBerry is ongoing.
Jason Schwartz, co-creator of Matchbook, says he wants to tap into the local advertising market, worth $140 billion and still going more digital every day. Traditionally, businesses turned to Yellow Pages, newspapers and other media to get their name out there, but increasingly online Yellow Pages, Google AdSense and deals sites like Groupon are stealing some of that market share. So far, Schwartz says, about $35 billion of the $140 billion has been eaten up by digital.
“There is still a lot of market share with a big question mark,” said Schwartz. “It's going digital but who will own is it up for grabs.”
It's no surprise to anyone at this point. Why else would Facebook have just made a big move into the deals game, populated by Groupon and endless clones?
At the moment, Matchbook is self-funded, but they’re starting to look for investors.