You may have seen that ‘Bebo’ seemingly came back on 17th December. Bebo was a social network that launched in 2005 and experienced massive popularity amongst young people. It was sold in 2008 to AOL for $850 million. At its peak it claimed to have over 10 million unique users. Over time users moved on to other sites like Facebook and Twitter and Bebo more or less vanished into obscurity. It did however retain its fond nostalgic presence in the minds of many “’90’s kids” and those who went through their adolescence in the mid 2000’s.
Last year the original founders of the website started developing Bebo to be re-released. Yesterday Bebo made its dramatic and triumphant return.
‘Bebo’ quickly began trending on Twitter and it seemed that everyone had downloaded the app and everyone was falling in love with how brilliant it was. The new Bebo however is a far different to the original Bebo. For starters it’s only a mobile app (the website is expected to return in January 2015).
The new Bebo acts as a messaging app, similar to the highly popular Whatsapp. You create an Avatar that is meant to look like you and then message other users. One of the big features of the new Bebo app is the use of hashtags. Like Twitter and Facebook hashtags are available for use in Bebo. You hashtag supposedly anything and the new Bebo app generates a cartoon image about that hashtag.
As entertaining as this may be it’s not one thing. It’s not Bebo. There are almost no consistent features from old Bebo to new Bebo. It’s like buying a Honda Civic and putting a Lamborghini badge on it. Calling something one thing when it’s clearly different doesn’t make it the same.
Disclaimer: The above analogy is not intended to imply the quality of old Bebo, new Bebo, Lamborghini’s or Honda Civics.
This new Bebo is not Bebo. It’s a new product that’s been given an old name. And that is genius. Whoever is in charge of the marketing department at Bebo should pat themselves on the back. Bebo have managed to get themselves great publicity and exposure simply by using their old name.
Bebo is not back I’m afraid (at least not until possibly January 2015). This new Bebo is nothing more, and nothing less, than a marketing master-stroke.