yoapp

Yo, the notification service working to prove that venture capitalists will invest in anything if you manage to attract enough attention shortly after your application launches, plans to make its way into other applications and services. Its hope, according to the Wall Street Journal, is to become the notification service used for everything from pizza deliveries to laundry pickup.

This is the part where I would usually make a snarky comment about how Silicon Valley is just filled with people who plan to make a few bucks off investors who don’t have anything better to do with their cash. There’s only one problem: assuming the company abandons its namesake and focuses on the notifications themselves, Yo might actually become surprisingly appealing.

People want to know what’s happening, and notifications are the easiest way for them to learn about the world around them without devoting their full attention to their smartphones. That is why people have purchased smartwatches despite all of their obvious shortcomings, it’s why Apple plans to improve notifications in iOS 8, and it’s why Yo might just be on to something.

Creating a service that allows businesses to share information with their customers — as Yo’s chief executive told the Journal, pizza delivery is an obvious example — without having to nag them with a text message or email could be appealing to both businesses and consumers. I for one don’t want to give my phone number to these businesses, but I still want to know when my pizza has started its long journey from the shop to the warm embrace of my empty stomach.

It would be easy enough to download an application and receive notifications that way, but I don’t want to download an application just for my pizza obsession, either. If Yo can find a way to serve notifications without asking me to download various applications, share my phone number or email address with businesses, or do basically anything else, it might just be a hit.

I don’t know how that would work from a technical standpoint, though I’m imagining a system where I can just offer a business my Yo username and then receive notifications whenever they press a button to let me know that my pizza is on its way or my laundry is ready for pickup. It doesn’t have to be very fancy — it just has to offer information about something I care about.

Yo has a long way to go before it can offer that service. The Journal says that it hasn’t started discussions with vendors, its recent hacking (which occurred just two days after its launch) will make it difficult to trust the company, and it currently has the dumbest proof of concept this side of Titstare, the awful, misogynistic application that “launched” at Disrupt 2013.

But that doesn’t mean that a lightweight notification service that simply allows people to know about things they care about won’t work. Again, that’s the reason people continue to purchase smartwatches or allow companies to send them notifications in the first place. I don’t know if Yo will be the company to make that notification service happen, but it very well could be.