Ultimately, Birdeez may feed users' sightings into current likely bird lists and into a special social network, Simeon said. On the Birdeez network, members could set up profiles that include information on their results, the gear they use and their birdwatching activities, such as upcoming trips, he said. But EcoLek is using a lean development strategy, starting small and waiting to see what users want before expanding the product. Birdeez also is currently limited to birds in California. And though the data available for a given area may someday include real-time data on what other birders are seeing nearby, that capability will require a lot more work, Simeon said.
The app runs natively on the iPhone and talks to EcoLek's servers for information such as local bird lists. Once the app is available, it will be free until Oct. 10, when it will shift to a "freemium" business model, Simeon said. Eventually, one feature that paying customers will get is the ability to access the appropriate bird database information in areas without mobile network access. He declined to name a price, saying the company plans to explore what users want to pay. In addition to iOS, the company hopes eventually to deliver Android and HTML5-based versions.
Ads aren't part of the business plan today, despite the potential for advertising in what the Fish and Wildlife Service called a $36 billion annual market in 2006. Advertising gives a company two sets of customers, and EcoLek prefers to have just one, Simeon said. But as an early-stage startup, the company is keeping its options open.