December 06, 2008

Kallow: Literally, A Gift Recommendation No-Brainer

By Phil Glockner of Scribkin (FriendFeed/Twitter)

KallowHave you ever visited a shopping web site, picked a type of product and then been completely lost? It's easy to do. Just go to Amazon and search for "digital camera" or "flat screen TV." What you will get in return is a list of hundreds of items.

Sure, they are ranked by user review, and that's a great starting point. But how far can you trust these faceless reviewers' opinions? How long has the product with the most stars been on the market? How do the specs differ from other similar products?

It was these questions that prompted to internet entrepreneurs, Caleb Elston (who you know from Toluu) and Jordan, to build a new site called Kallow. Its aim is simple: Take all the guess-work, all the stat-comparing, all the researching out of buying a number of electronic devices (for now) and return you with a single recommendation.

A single recommendation? That's correct. Only. One. Result.

When I first visited the site, I was pretty taken aback, let me tell you. I am used to being awash in choices. Different brands, different shapes, sizes, prices. For years, I have been so immersed in the ocean of consumer choice that stepping out on the pristine shores of no choice left me sort of startled and confused.

Then I thought about the goal of the site.. the site isn't for me. It is me! It is the me that recommends products to my mom, my sister, my uncle. These folks probably don't know much about what makes one digital camera better than another, and don't care. They just want to take pictures of their family and the Grand Canyon.

With my eyes opened to this new reality, I started investigating the recommendations. On their explanation page, they say, "We do the research, we compare each model, we balance performance, ease of use and price for you."

So I researched their research. Take, for example, their recommendation of a thumb drive. Mysteriously, they recommend a generic brand of 4GB drive called a "DataTraveler." Why this one? It turns out, it's fast. It's cheap. It's gotten good reliability reviews. And, it comes in 'frustration-free packaging,' which means you won't cut your hand on the box when you open it.

You know what, just knowing that last item is enough for me. A whole lot of 4GB flash drives are in the 15 to 20 dollar price range, but who knows which ones come in boxes instead of heat-sealed consumer-proof plastic? I'm not willing to find out, in any case. I'm getting this one.

Jordan and Caleb do this for each of the 21 (at time of writing) products listed. They consider everything, from ship charges, to user reviews, to brand name, to price. When they say they've done the work, they've done the work.

At least, that is what they are building at Kallow. It's not a shopping site.. it's a reputation site. It's a "trust us, if you are looking for a (insert computer or electronics item here), you will be satisfiedif you get this one" site.

An interesting and bold concept, in this age of consumer choice. Perhaps too much choice.

Read more by Phil Glockner at