Facebook may still be one of the world’s top social networks, handling the data of over a billion users worldwide – but for Harvey Medcalf, CEO of Arroware Industries Inc., that’s a billion users’ data that isn’t being safeguarded well enough.
For Medcalf, Facebook hasn’t been the most trustworthy of stewards of user data, and that’s where his Toronto-based startup is stepping in. Arroware is offering an alternative social network called myApollo, which is now moving out of beta mode and being launched as a full-fledged offering.
First unveiled back in 2013, myApollo uses distributed network architecture. It doesn’t connect to any servers or data centre – instead, it stores data on user devices. When users want to upload or store their content online, they do that with their own network, meaning their data stays under their own control.
“How many people on social media know their information isn’t kept private? … We’re doing everything on social media without Facebook,” Medcalf says. “If you’re familiar with BitTorrent, this is the next generation of that. It’s a peer-to-peer mechanism.”
Users will be able to build out lists of contacts, send encrypted instant messages, share media, and create a personal profile – something similar to a Facebook timeline, but with a lot more control over how the data is stored and accessed. Plus, data on the users themselves is encrypted and fragmented.
The Android and iOS versions are already available, and a web-based platform is slated to roll out in the coming weeks.
While myApollo is branded as a new, privacy-oriented social network, Medcalf says he believes it’s actually capable of doing a lot more.
“Social media is such an excitable industry and a hot topic for now,” he says. “We thought this was the best way to put it in the hands of the most amount of people. But there’s file transfers, there are other phenomenal features. This was designed to change their expectations of what they can do with a mobile device.”
For example, Medcalf believes myApollo fits neatly into the Internet of Things movement, where devices will be constantly connected online. There’s also a B2B component to the platform, given users will be able to use the peer-to-peer network for communication. And at some point, everyday objects like cars and roads may be able to “talk” to each other using the same kind of technology.
So far, myApollo has drawn its fair share of interest from Europe. That’s led the Arroware team to head out on a media tour of the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France over the next two weeks.
Right now, Arroware is working on ways of monetizing its platform, although Medcalf is keeping mum on exactly what the startup is considering. And aside from rolling out its web platform, the startup is also working on the race to a million users, hoping to draw in people who are concerned with the privacy options that Facebook and other social networks are currently affording them.