As a consumer in a digital era, one of the most wonderful rituals is the experience of reading reviews. From restaurants to raisins, rest assured that others have tested the waters before you and that their opinions have been integrated into a number of stars. There’s actually a whole niche of Amazon products whose sole existence seems to be a forum for entertaining and ironic reviews, like this banana slicer or the book How to Avoid Huge Ships. Familiar with these SkyMall-esque absurdities, I was excited when I looked up the new app “I’m” on the iTunes Store. From 14 reviews, it had a perfect score of one star. Was I’m the next banana slicer?
To my disappointment, reading through the reviews revealed that I had stumbled upon an app so utterly useless, so unironically unhelpful, that it drained all humor from those who encounter it. “I’m a waste of your time,” wrote one reviewer. “I’m stupid… for downloading this app,” quipped another. The app uses your location to find nearby recent posts called “I’Ms.” It’s like Instagram that uses proximity, instead of whom you follow, to show you posts. When I opened up the app, my first I’M was from a nearby hospital advertising a position for a physical therapist. Actually, every one of my I’Ms was from the nearby hospital advertising jobs. Just as promised, I’m informed and inspired!
I’m digressing. I’m piques curiosity. As a name, I’m is pretty much as short as they come. Because of its brevity and because I’m is such a commonly uttered word, the name is instantly memorable. And with the domain im.com (which must have cost a fortune), the brand brings some serious cachet. In the age of the selfie, though, it’s hard to decide whether the blatant vanity of I’m is refreshing in its honesty or abhorrent in its hubris. When used as intended (by people and not hospitals), the app is all about you: what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, where you are. Couldn’t any social media be called “I’m”? It’s not just a name. I’m is emblematic of a cultural ethos and for that I think it’s brilliant. On the more practical side, I’m is a little confusing since im.com could easily be misinterpreted as an instant messaging platform. Also, because the name is so simple, it’s pretty hard to figure out what the app does just by the name. It really could be anything.
Without accounts, I’m’s fatal flaw is that those who post don’t get the satisfaction of likes and followers. And without that, there’s no one else to confirm that you’re good at being you, leaving your I’Ms just floating in a vacuum of anonymous voyeurs. It’s just like sending a letter to Santa – you’ll never know if he liked your reindeer joke. The app may have been a flop, but if you ask me about the name, I’m impressed.