Towcester: provides better entertainment than Toasteroid
PICTURE: David Dew
By Robin Gibson 1:30PM 16 AUG 2016
A WHILE ago I suggested the Carrot app. It would get users to do things by employing a scaled reward/risk incentivisation matrix (a sort of carrot and stick kind of thing). Obviously this was ridiculous. I’ve just discovered this exact app, actually called Carrot, has existed since 2013.
Carrot proves you can get funding for literally anything. Good news for the nerds/comedians/idiots (select according to your feelings) trying to launch Toasteroid. In a twist on the ‘Get your fridge to buy cheese’ internet-of-things, Toasteroid prints stuff on your toast.
‘Simply’ (always is, right?) connect the app via Bluetooth to the wired toaster and you’ll be able to “toast images, the weather, send toast messages, and everything in between”. Yes! Everything in between, on toast.
It’s unclear how far toast messages will get – presumably the other side of the table. Yet the would-be producers have raised nearly $ 25,000 of a $ 150,000 target on Kickstarter. Makes you think.
The obvious thing for racing/toast fans is the going at Towcester. That’d be good. In fact this whole thing inspired me to review their website and it certainly looks toastable.
There might be small satisfaction in smearing jam over, I don’t know, Jamie Spencer’s face, someone like that, that you might have ungraciously blamed for something.
But the appeal must be niche. It’s about as substantial as Warburton’s Danish White and really it’s the opposite of the internet. Sitting in the kitchen sending toast messages to yourself by Bluetooth. Completely antisocial. Toasteroid is @Toasteroid_ (over 1,200 followers, presumably mostly anxious investors).
Something not antisocial that has kickstarted is social betting. Yes, greybeards, it’s back to Jeff Bernard or equivalent holding the stakes in the Cog & Ratchet with a lookout at the door. No, sorry, it’s not. That doesn’t need a startup budget, and it’s a bit old-fashioned, what with the cash money.
This stuff is apps. It probably started in the States. You can picture the ‘guys’ socially betting on Sunday NFL, drinking Budwater and wearing big sponge hands.
Isn’t ‘social betting’ what Paddy Power tried with their Facebook service? That didn’t last long. Is betting really social? I mean it is if you’re an actor in a TV betting ad, bouncing around like an electrocuted Jacamo model on modafinil, high-fiving your mates when Stoke get a corner while your girlfriend fumes (don’t worry mate, she’ll be off).
But for many betting is solitary. A chasm stretches between the grim muttering of a shop floor and the hearty banter of mating lads. Still, for the would-be witty and garrulous, there are a few apps out there.
Everyfan seemed one to start with; I mean, it popped up first, it’s new-ish and its name isn’t the worst pun ever. As with most social setups it pools stakes in a league or tournament (you can set up your own) and pays out on position. You have to be impressed by the interface. It’s straightforward and you’re chaperoned by instant instructions on each screen.
Quality contrasts with the amount of sport. You can select ‘All sports’, but on Thursday only football was represented. The only tourney on the night was for Bristol Rovers v Cardiff City – unlikely to attract a glamorous crowd. Frankly it was astounding that four signed up.
Once you’re enrolled, you can sling a pre-determined number of points at traditional betting markets; winning points determines your finish and share of the pot.
It works smoothly. I ended up in second – which was nice! – but lost out on first by pressing for the extra-time draw. I entered the chat, which did exist, to say “Good grief”. No one replied. Is this social?
It’s hard to gauge from an EFL Cup match. But by Friday players were trickling in for the weekend’s higher profile kickabouts. The format is easy; it feels a lot like the likeable Top Tipster Leagues for racing. It’s a gentle but genuine third way and if you’re a person who gets to know your neighbours it could be up your street.
There are loads of social betting apps: Puntaa, Betfect, Betyou and who knows what other cringemakingly-named efforts. All yearn for a broad community, but are autonomous cells with limited reach. Like when Betfair gobbled up the small fish and went on to years of dominance, it’s possible the market is not yet formed.
Interestingly, the first result when you Google social betting apps is Sun Bets, the new service from the Sun (a popular newspaper apparently). But that has no obvious social angle (yet).