Cellity Launches Public Beta

By Ravit Lichtenberg (blog)

Cellity AG, a German startup we met at LeWeb, is opening its Beta to the public today. Cellity’s Addressbook 2.0 is an enhanced contact and communications management tool designed to reduce communication complexity brought about by the multiple sources of contact list sources. In addition to offering users with a sleek and seamless aggregation of contacts across platforms, Cellity’s offers smart add-ons and call capabilities that are bound to reduce the time to search, find, and initiate communication.

Starting today, users can download the Ceillity J2ME application to their smartphones or log on to ipohe.celity.com with iPhone’s safari browser. Native iPhone, Blackberry, and Android applications are scheduled to be released in the first quarter of ’09.

Cellity Addressbook 2.0 is the Swiss knife of all things communication. Users can access all their contacts from one place online or on their phone, make calls to anyone anywhere using VOIP capability, hold conference calls, and update status on social networking platforms (I just did on Facebook). To cut down on user workload, Addressbook 2.0 will show users which contacts they use most, history of communication, and automatically update information as contacts update theirs.

Cellity plans to make revenue in three ways: Through transactions on low-cost calls, charging monthly fees on premium services and extra features such as an ad-free application, enhanced contact options and premium support, and through by charging for ads on the free Addressbook 2.0 version. The latter one, we suspect, is much less lucrative these days but the first two can provide a solid revenue balance.

Cellity is addressing a real problem users who have multiple contact sources face. It provides tangible benefits that can translate to reducing the time required to communicate, cost of calls, and mental workload of users. Instead of forcing people to communicate within the boundaries of the platform they’re using, Cellity makes it possible for people to communicate the way they want. But Cellity also had s number of key challenges it needs to overcome:

  1. Cellity needs to align its brand messaging to its look and feel. Currently, it seems split between catering to smart, techy, uber-networkers (in some cases you need to enter the server info, and it has a rather enterprise-like logo) and mainstream consumers (as evident in the web application’s child/anime wizard and overload of instructions).
  2. Addressbook 2.0 already syncs with the major social networks such as Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, and with major email platforms. It is unclear how Cellity will accommodate smaller but growing networks both locally and globally.
  3. Cellity’s web user interface is a bit convoluted, using non-standard iconography and task-flow. Its mobile application seems a bit more intuitive although it feels a bit linear, forcing users to scroll and click to open a number of content layers. The company says it’s working on this issue.
  4. Cellity is a bit late to make an entry with competitors like Xumii and Fidg’t already open to the public. It will need to clearly communicate its unique value proposition which right now, it doesn’t do so well.

Overall, Cellity offers real world solution to real world pains. Its most compelling value proposition is for people who regularly need manage multiple streams of communications across platforms and devices. With an enhanced user experience, better aligned message, and a clearly differentiated offering, Cellity has what it takes to become a real star in 2009.

Cellity was founded in 2006. To date, the company has seen more than 6.5 million downloads. The company received its first round from Mangrove Capital Partners (a Skype investor), Neuahus partners, and the B-to-V Switzerland-based Angel fund.

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