Internet content provider AOL has made its latest move in the mobile apps space, buying ‘social networking startup with a difference’ Rally Up for an undisclosed sum. Founded in 2009 and based in Santa Cruz, California, Rally Up bills itself as “a social network for real friends.” The service does not allow users to add friends from Twitter or Facebook or anywhere else, because, as Rally sees it, those aren’t really your friends. “Rally Up is a new kind of social network for your Real Friends – the people that actually should know your location (spouse, family, close friends etc),” claims the company. “Rally Up combines microblogging with location, allowing users to share text, photos and direct message each other.”
Rally Up has two products; a social networking app by the same name for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, whilst it has also submitted another application to Apple’s App Store called FacePlant that is meant to let iPhone users see friends and start a video chat over the iPhone’s FaceTime app on the iPhone 4.
For AOL, the move marks another step in its ‘mobile-first’ strategy. In a statement, the company noted that “for the first time, AOL mobile applications will consist not only of mobile versions of its popular desktop and web offerings, but also will include all-new products that launch first on mobile devices. The infusion of mobile product development talent provided by the Rally Up team will provide AOL with an additional spark to ignite its mobile-first initiatives.”
Earlier this year AOL hired ex Palm recruit David Temkin to head up its mobile efforts. To date it has released a number of apps on various software platforms, including a DailyFinance app. However, AOL has a long way to go before it can compete with Internet rivals such as Google, MSN and Yahoo in the mobile space.