Companies have long tried to get people to ditch paper business cards in favor of a digital connection.
And yet, business cards continue to pile up. Even at swanky Silicon Valley events, cards are commonplace. Detest them though you might--and I do--plenty of others seem not to care. Or they even enjoy them.
In short, this isn't an old medium that's ripe for the digital revolution. At least not entirely.
LinkedIn understands that, and today it's launching a souped-up version of its free CardMunch iPhone app (Droid users will have to wait), which already serves as a good mix of old and new. The way it works is simple: Using the app, you take a photo of a business card. The apps saves the image and zaps it off to a team of workers around the world who transcribe the information.
The CardMunch system waits for four submissions so its technology can up the odds of accuracy. If you're name is Laura and one of three submissions spells the name Lara, the software will conclude that Laura is the one to go with.
The card information comes back--sometimes in minutes, sometimes in hours--and the card appears in an easy-to-access manner. Tilt the phone sideways, and the images of the cards show up, creating a sort of virtual Roledex.
The new version adds a few features that LinkedIn hopes will up usage of the app and better marry the CardMunch with the rest of LinkedIn. (LinkedIn, which has 135 million users, won't disclose the number of CardMunch users).
A few of the features:
When a new card lands in your CardMunch file, the apps scans LinkedIn public profiles and tells you more info about that person and identifies your common connections.
A notes field so you can input details about the person you met.
An email icon that shots out a pre-drafted nice-to-meet-you email.
CardMuch was a three-person startup that LinkedIn bought in January for an undisclosed amount. "Our grand theory is to capture all the world's business cards," said Sid Viswanathan, a founder of CardMunch who now runs the business for LinkedIn.