Dopplr: Cool Service But Where is the Network Effect ?

Been using Dopplr lately. Dopplr is “an online tool for frequent business travellers.”. They’ve been around a few months and have great buzz like this:

“You put in your travel schedule and link to your friends. It allows you to see where everyone is. I love it.” – Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia in The New York Times.

The idea is that it helps show you who will be in town, and who might also be traveling to the events you are attending. I think all of us use a combination of blogging, email, IM status updates, twitter, and facebook to broadcast our various trips. Dopplr looks to make this all simpler and more efficient.

OK, so this all sounds great 🙂 Except what I’ve found is that the people I know who have dopplr accounts, are “following” my trips but not actually sharing their own trip info. Could be a privacy setting issue, or a general lack of usage since they signed-on since you need to login and actively share stuff back, whereas sharing your trip with others requires no action on their part.

For this service to have any real value you really need lots of your friends and colleagues to use it. It’s a classic network effect – the more nodes – the more people use it – the better the service will become. Time will tell how this works out. Looking at my latest stats in Dopplr, about 10% of the people I know who have accounts are actually active.