Twenty years into the personal technology revolution and we are still using address books that work pretty much like physical address books. It makes no sense. The mobile address book should be hyperconnected to our digital life, informed by it, and responsive to it.
I remember back in early 2011, Steve Greenwood walked into our old offices on the 14th floor and told us that he intended to build that hyperconnected mobile address book. He showed us a spreadsheet he had been personally using for the past five or so years to manage all of his relationships. I had never seen anything like it. He was obsessed with relationships and managing them. That’s what we are always looking for, someone who just can’t sleep because they want to fix something that isn’t working in their world and have been trying for a long time to fix it.
Steve had built a prototype that ran on the web and the vision was all there. An address book that knows what you are doing, where you are, who you are most engaged with at any time, and is search and context driven as opposed to a directory of names and addresses.
But Steve knew that he had to launch this as a mobile app that will eventually replace your current address book and he knew he had a lot of hard technical problems to solve in order to do it right and do it at scale. So he asked us for the seed capital to build a team and build that product. We said yes.
Today, Steve and the amazing team he put together are launching Brewster, initially as an iOS app. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download it from the iOS app store and check it out. The NY Times has a good post on Brewster today.
Here’s how Brewster works. You download the app. You connect it to google apps, facebook, twitter, foursquare, linkedin, and soon a bunch more services. Brewster builds you a new address book that runs on your phone and also in the cloud.
This new address book is smart because it knows a lot more things about your relationships than you have ever entered into your address book and it is adapting in real-time to all of this data. It knows who you probably want to talk to right now and it also knows who you are losing touch with and displays all of this data in a feed. Your Brewster address book is also de-duped and hot linked to all the social activities you want to do from calling, texting, facebooking, or whatever.
This is an address book that can handle a search query like “knicks game” or “sushi tonight” or “band of horses concert”. We are always querying our brain with questions like that. Now we can ask our address books those kinds of questions.
I have really enjoyed being involved with this project over the past year. It fits neatly into many themes I have been writing about and thinking about for years. But mostly I am excited to finally see this product out in the market where folks can use it and experience Steve’s vision of how an address book should work in the mobile social world we live in.