Ohio State student Phyo Aung has created a Facebook application that allows friends to review and discuss a wide range of products.
The application works like a consumer review forum, but instead of discussing products with strangers, the application, run through Facebook, allows you to tag your friends into discussions and get suggestions and help on a number of products.
Phyo, a third-year in electrical engineering, and his brother, Min, a computer science major at the University of Wisconsin, came to Ohio from Rengoon, Burma. This was their first website or application built after it took them an estimated 365 hours to program and design.
Phyo’s idea for the application did not take nearly as long.
“My friend’s washer broke and I was looking on the Internet to see how to get it fixed. I was thinking it would be easy if I could see something that is not broken so that I can compare the two,” Aung said.
After forming the idea, Phyo, who had no computer programming experience, called his brother.
“He knows a lot more about programming than I do,” Aung said. “I’m mostly on the front end, what you see, my brother is mostly on the back end, how the data is organized.”
The application has 84 users since its opening on Feb. 22, but Aung has hopes that the application will not be solely Facebook-related.
“The only thing we’re getting from Facebook is the friend list,” said Aung. “It could be a multi-social networking thing. It could work together between your Facebook account, Twitter and Myspace account by matching all your friends together.”
As for what students think of the application’s practical use, there are some mixed feelings.
“I could definitely see it being useful,” said Tim Mitchell, a first-year in exploration. “You could get your friend’s point of view, someone you can relate to, and maybe even putting a face to it would help materialize it more.”
Nick Crowley, a first-year in finance, has some doubts.
“It could be useful, but the only thing is the number of friends you have on Facebook that are going to have that exact product are probably not going to be that high,” Crowley said.
The next step for Aung and his brother is the creation of a mobile phone application where users could see a product in a store and get immediate feedback from their friends before they buy a product.
The possibility of a mobile phone application has Nick’s brother, Andrew Crowley, a third-year in mechanical engineering, a bit more optimistic.
“It would definitely be more helpful, but it’s operating on what level of use somebody has, period,” Crowley said, pointing out that if someone does not use mobile phone applications they would not use this one regularly.
Aung is spending about $50 a month for use of an online server. High-traffic applications use a server that could cost anywhere from $250 to $300 a month, Aung said, but money is not something he is worried about.
“I haven’t really figured that out yet,” Aung said. “Just having a popular website, if it starts to get hits the website value goes up. It just has to be useful for people. If it’s a good idea the getting money part is not something we have to worry about.”