SocialU is a half-baked, condescending, poorly designed, ad-ridden lifestreaming app built in Adobe AIR. We'd refrain from writing about it, but the things we dislike about it seem worth mentioning and with all the frothy clone-like startups flying around on the web, who doesn't like seeing one that deserves it get a good blog-lashing sometimes?
What's Wrong With SocialU
SocialU is an AIR app, so it runs on your desktop, but it acts as a single-app browser. There's no way to return to your home page, your friends' activity streams or any other logical place without scrolling down to the bottom of the page main. That's frustrating.
Almost all the links on the site throw you out into another browser tab and onto the home page of the various services aggregated. You can see when friends comment or like an item in your activity stream - but you can't interact with that information.
We'd have thought the service was just very unfinished, but the company has retained a PR agent, seems to have a fair sized staff and may be hiring some other support services as well, judging from who's on the site.
It's Hard to Look At
SocialU already has a big ad in the sidebar, annoying the handful of early users who have little reason to stay as it is. In the primary window of the browser you'll find all kinds of insipid "gifts" (McDonalds fries, Starbucks coffee) and stock-photo illustrated "give aways." Gifts on Facebook are icons drawn by Susan Kare, the woman who drew the original Mac icons. That's a classy operation. SocialU is probably pitching itself to ad networks as a company with a plan to use product placement and rounded corners to shovel money into the back of a big truck. It's awful and as the service looks today - it's not going to work.
The SocialU founder's blog is a giant block of undifferentiated text. Update: We deleted an inappropriate line here, commenting on a profile pic is pretty uncalled for and we won't do it again.
We see a lot of apps we think will improve peoples' lives and/or create a ripple effect of innovation around them. This isn't one of them.