Cafe4tune is a new, free social network which enables individuals and organisations worldwide to interact in virtual, 2D and 3D web environments. Quietly introduced to the market last year, it’s been launched today in Beta with companion iPhone, iPad and Android apps, and claims over 20,000 members in 35 countries.
From a construction-oriented business-to-business perspective, Cafe4tune may have some future appeal – if it becomes successful. For example, individuals, organisations and special interest groups can represent themselves in a 3D environment, and can join ‘cafes’ (aka groups) organised by interest, theme, topic or business.
Communication options include live chat or text messaging, with in-built 3D video and audio tools to “take online social networking and connection-building to a new level”. Every user can also access integrated web audio and live video streaming functionality, helping create 3D ‘virtual premises’ to showcase and sell their products.
Another Second Life?
Of course, 3D social networks are nothing new, and people will inevitably make comparisons with Second Life (a little unfair at this stage, as Cafe4tune is barely populated with any useful content). About four years ago, I first entered Second Life. It was a fleeting visit – I didn’t quite understand the teleporting and exotically clothed avatars, and (wearing my construction hard-hat) creating a 3D model of an existing building wasn’t just a question of processing an existing model file (though I understand Second Life has much improved in the latter respect with 3D mesh imports enabled last year).
Having seen from Birmingham-based consultancy Daden how Second Life can be applied to the needs of the built environment professional, I don’t need convincing of the value of 3D interactivity. I’ve also seen Slider Studio [former client] deploy panoramic photography very effectively via its StickyWorld platform to create interactive gallery and exhibition spaces (post); and Slider Studio also created its own Collaboration Cafe in 2010 (post).
The emergence of a new player may galvanise renewed interest in immersive, multi-media platforms; it could also stimulate new thinking from existing social networks in how they deliver user interaction. But, given the dominance of existing social networks such as Facebook, is Cafe4tune offering enough to tempt ordinary people away? I suspect its strengths may lie in its leisure consumer-oriented music and video offerings rather than in B2B-type adoption.
Update (20 April 2012): Cafe4tune today “announced its official listing as the first Android app in Google Play Store to combine standard web or Web 3D social network interaction with an online dating service.” Kind of confirms it’s more a leisure platform than B2B.