Poken? I’ve only just met ‘em!

I am now the slightly bemused owner of a “Poken”, a little gadget which was introduced in Japan at a previous Danny Choo CGM Night and given away to lucky attendees, of which I wasn’t one. I had to purchase mine, though that said, I used my loyalty card points to essentially get it for “free”, which is good as I wasn’t keen on paying about 2,500 Yen for one myself.

A Poken is a small, cutesy plastic character with a big white hand sticking out of the side of it. The hand is detachable, the character merely a case, and turns out to be a USB flashdrive. You put the hand bit in your PC’s USB and it connects to the Poken website, where you fill in your personal details, add an avatar image, provide the links to your Facebook, Linkedin and a wide variety of other social network accounts. You then walk around with the thing in your pocket and if you happen to come across a new contact with the same device you hold the little hand bits against each other, in a tiny, geeky high-five, and it exchanges data. Next time you log in on the site that person and their details will be added to your friends list. It’s cute.

I do have my reservations, though. Unless it becomes widely popular I will find myself in situations where I have to ask if the other party has a Poken, which would invariably lead to questions and explanations, unless I wear the damn thing around my neck, which, frankly, is not going to happen. Secondly, though it connects automatically to your other social networks, it is in itself yet another social network of sorts. You have to log in to their website and organise your stuff from there. It is not as extensive as, say, a Linkedin, but it is yet another log in and website to bookmark. It would have been a much shrewder marketing move had they worked directly with one of the larger sites, like Facebook, and made it slot in seamlessly and branded it as part of their service.

On the one hand the physical high-five to exchange information is cute, and it certainly gives you control over whom to connect to, on the other, a Wifi roaming mode would have been cool for situations where you just want to meet new people. I can imagine drinking in a bar to have my small one-handed ninja (not a euphemism) beep at me, telling me there is someone else around with the same interests and the same device. I vaguely remember such a thing having been marketed years ago, only to disappear in the mists of rapidly aging gadgetry, but maybe today the market is more open to such a device.

As it stands now, the Poken seems a gimmicky and slightly overwrought way of handing someone a digital business card. What makes it special is the high-five aspect of it, which I don’t quite think is enough to make this a worthwhile purchase. I’ll be carrying mine around from now on and see if it will be of any use whatsoever, but somehow I have my doubts.

Finally, the name is just prone to ridicule and innuendo, which I guess is both a blessing and a curse. Though maybe that is only an issue for people who, like me, grew up on a diet of Carry On films.

A Poken costs 2,480 Yen (19EU, 26USD), comes in a variety of cutesy characters and is available at larger electronic stores. They have a website here.

14 comments:

  1. congrats on your new Poken. I have similar feelings regarding the gimickyness.
    The design is really not very cool.
    I hope they produce more sleek and stylish ones.

    Poken's approach includes viral marketing, so if you buy a pack of 12 you can sell them to your new acquaintances for 2,000 Yen each and still make a profit. ( I sold my first pack already)

    One big disadvantage over the "dead tree" business cards is that you don't have the person's name in front of you, so if it's a difficult name to hear there's nothing to see to give you clue what they are trying to say. This is especially true in Japan!

    My final sales line is that if all else fails it's still a 1Gb memory stick!

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