A Review of Stamped for iPhone

I’ve been playing around with the newest “tell the world what stuff you like” app to hit iOS, Stamped. From what I understand, it’s similar to Oink, a service+app combo that lets you give your opinion on food, media and other such like. I’ve never used Oink, so I can’t speak to its quality nor how similar it is to Stamped.

Anyway, Stamped.

The basic idea is that you can “stamp” things you like: software, books, movies, restaurants, you name it. Once you stamp something, others can also stamp the same thing and cite you as the source, which increments the total number of stamps you can issue (you start with 100).

If those couple of sentences left you a bit confused, don’t worry - the service is a little hard to grok before you’ve kicked the tires a bit.

So, for the balance of this post, I’ll assume you’ve used it or are at least familiar with how it works.


The app is quite nicely designed, overall. My only real gripe is that it’s very easy to find yourself immersed 12 views deep and the only way to return to the main screen is to repeatedly tap the back button. They would do well to implement the Twitter’s title bar swipe gesture since drilling into various categories of things or lists of people is a common occurrence and getting out should be super easy.

I understand, given the “anything” nature of the service, that they don’t want to restrict users to a bunch of built-in categories for the things they stamp, but the fact that I’m presented with a free-form text field for categorization is going to make said categorization largely unreliable.


One of Instagram‘s more interesting choices was their decision to make their software run only on the iPhone. You can view individual images on the web, but that’s it - everything else is done using the app. Same with Stamped.

I don’t necessarily mind this, but the nature of the data being shared is such that doing something with it after seeing it is the logical next step (as opposed to Instagram, since the most common activity surrounding photos is simply looking at them). If somebody shares a book that they really love, I’d like to see an Amazon link or some other way to do more with the name of the book so I could possibly revisit it at some point.

I’m hoping they introduce a web component to the service down the road, but I also understand that keeping things on a single platform makes maintenance a whole lot simpler.

Longevity and Freshness

Obviously I can’t speak for anybody other than me, but the list of things I like is fairly static. I have a handful of books and albums that I really love, but I’m not regularly adding to that number. So it’s relatively easy to quickly fire a big chunk of my favorite things into Stamped, but I wonder if the average person will regularly find enough new stuff to stamp in order to keep the service fresh. My gut instinct in this respect isn’t optimistic, I’m sad to say.

Another thing about Stamped that has me a little concerned is how frequently the content is duplicated by different users. For instance, when I first signed up, I immediately added a few of my favorite applications: OmniFocus, Evernote, Instapaper and others. It wasn’t long before many of my friends joined up, began following me and subsequently restamping many of the same things I’d already stamped. It’s nice to learn that my contemporaries share my taste in software, but seeing Reeder tick by for the fourth or fifth time starts to feel like noise.

Location, Location, Location

I have an account with Foursquare and I actually use it quite a bit, but the only people with whom I share my check-ins are people who live (or who happen to temporarily be) physically near me. I love all of you Internet wonks more than a scoop of vanilla, but I don’t really give a crap about where you buy your tires or that your favorite watering hole serves a wicked basket of chicken wings.

Stamped, in addition to inviting users to enter really cool things they read, use and listen to, also enables you to add geographic stuff (restaurants, bars and the like). Again, this is all fine if your friends list is comprised of people from your home town, but becomes utterly useless when people from all over the globe are reading your crap. I’m interested to see how this aspect of the service shakes out; part of my is fairly convinced that people will stick to Foursquare, etc. for this type of thing and that this one aspect of the service will fade into the background in favor of geography-agnostic stamps.


I like the idea that users are given a finite number of stamps to begin with and that the only way to increase this number is by getting positive feedback from other members of the community.

The “like” function is a little weird to me. I get that they wanted to add a way for people to give feedback on a stamp without having to stamp it themselves, but the UI for this feature feels like an afterthought, particularly since (near as I can tell) there’s no way to see who liked a given item other than in the little news ticker thingie.

Being able to mark things as “to-do” is a really great idea. I’m interested to see if they expose this data via some type of developer API so it can be read into things like Amazon wish lists and such.

They don’t charge any money for the service, nor do they show any ads. Couple this with my little pet theory that people will hose in a pantload of favorite things and then walk away when that well runs dry and you’ve got a recipe for a flash in the pan. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but they need a way to make money. Charging a couple of bucks for the app would be a start.

Final Thoughts

The service is a good idea and the execution, for the most part, is pretty damn good. In the right hands, the data being fed into Stamped could be a goldmine for advertisers — which, if I had to guess, is probably part of their larger strategy since, without any visible form of income from users, likely points to the only logical success here: acquisition by an organization that can assume the cost of running a service like Stamped and make use of the personal information housed on its servers.

(Oh, and if you want to follow my stamps or whatever, I’m “inkedmn” on Stamped)

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