A few weeks ago, we told you about Bump, a new social network that allows people to communicate with one another via their license plates. While Bump seemed to have some nifty applications -- like allowing users to tell a complete stranger that his car alarm keeps going off -- it also struck us as a little creepy in that "Hey good-lookin', be back to pick you up later" kind of way. Now, there's another car-based social network on the loose, and thankfully, it seems a little less stalker-y: Klutch22.
Klutch22 is designed for car enthusiasts -- people who are passionate about a particular make, model, or genre. To sign-up for the free service, users simply visit the Klutch22 website, create an account with a username and password, and enter some information about the car they drive. Then, they can use an embedded Google map to see other users in their area (referred to as "rides"), see areas that others have flagged for police and road hazards, and check for upcoming events. On the free iPhone app, Klutch22 users can also sign up for "krewes" -- user groups dedicated to particular cars or activities (e.g. exotics, racing, etc.).
As nifty as this may sound for car enthusiasts, Klutch22 has a couple of problems. First and foremost: as we've mentioned many times before, no one wakes up wanting to join another social network. It's another login, another username, another set of friends to remember.
At the very least, Klutch22's founders could've used Facebook Connect so that users could skip creating a new online identity -- and as an added bonus, word of Klutch22 would spread more quickly across the world's largest social network. If they were really ahead of the game, they might've built the site on top of Facebook itself, as online communities like Fabulis have done. Really, anything to make it easier to participate.
Problem number two with Klutch22 is one common to all social networks: it's only as good as the members who join. A quick scan of the U.S. maps revealed no active users in New York, Atlanta, Dallas, or Los Angeles -- all of which are heavily focused around car culture. That doesn't bode well for Klutch22's adoption in America.
Then again, that may not be a problem: the U.S. might not be Klutch22's primary target since it's a Quebecois outfit. That's not said on the website, but it's revealed via a quick WHOIS search -- and via a scan of the slightly broken English warning that pops up on the iPhone app:
WARNING!!!: THIS SYSTEM HAS TO BE USED STRICTLY TO LOCALIZE AND FIND RIDES AROUND YOU. THIS IS A FRIENDLY COMMUNITY FOR MATURE AND ENTHUSIAST RIDERS ONLY. IN NO WAY THIS SYSTEM HAS TO BE USED TO PROMOTE ANY ILLEGAL STREET RACING ACTIVITIES AND DANGEROUS DRIVING BEHAVIORS.
Charming, but charming enough to pull in users? We'll see.