It’s great to be back and at my new home here on Been & Going! It’s been a few months since we’ve chatted and we’ve got lots to blab about. Apparently, so do many of my friends. Have you noticed all of those personalized cartoons popping up all over your Facebook timeline? They’re part of the new online craze – Bitstrips. I decided to animate myself and see what all the hype is about!
Bitstrips is a free Facebook and mobile phone application that allows anyone to design their own cartoons with them as the star. Bitstrips calls itself “the most customizable avatar-creation tool on the Web.”
The company is based in Toronto, Canada and has 10 employees. Bitstrips went from 0 to 10 million users in 7 months. It all started with $0 funding!
The main Bitstrips app avatar design menu.
The app is extremely simple to use. You are presented with multiple choices for body type, hair color, wrinkles; the list goes on and on. You can even show your true feelings with an emotion. So, if you have a sour stomach – it’s easy to tell your friends!
The Bitstrips app scene menu.
After you have your body design down, you can then need to choose a wardrobe, which is broken down into six categories. One of the weaknesses of the app though, is that you have limited customization options on the wardrobe. While there are tons of choices you have to start with six basic categories. I’m usually wearing my Yankees jersey and cap and was hoping to find something similar. I doubt they will get the rights anytime soon to use MLB logos, but at least have something generic. I went with a hoodie and backwards baseball cap, which I again wished I could customize further. It also seems easier to locate the additional customization options on the desktop Facebook app. On the mobile app, I couldn’t easily find simple controls such as changing the color of a shirt.
After creating your character, you then choose from a predesigned scene and you can also import the image of a friend.
While there are many scenes and comics to choose from, here is where another limitation creeps up. There are more than a thousand to choose from with more being added every day, but scrolling through my timeline most of my friends have already taken the best scenes. Plus, there are very little customization options, so you are basically stuck using the same scenarios as your friends. The more people that use this, the less unique it will become. Each scene needs more customization options, such as adding furniture or moving your character around.
The app also gives you the option of saving your cartoon or publishing it straight to Facebook.
With the choice of creating a simple cartoon, a greeting card, or even just posting how you feel at the moment, you can see how this has exploded in popularity.
The Bitstrips website boasts 11 million unique users, 55 million shared, and 3 billion viewed! TV networks would love to have these ratings!
Some of my online friends have lost their restraint however and upload cartoon after cartoon, really clogging up my Facebook wall. Other users have taken to Twitter to express their outrage over all the hype.
Bitstrips launched on Facebook in December 2012, but it wasn’t until the IPhone app was released in October that the popularity skyrocketed. It was the number one download app for both IPhone and Google last week. The large demand has caused the app to run slow at times and the site is often down often for crashes and maintenance. Millions of users at once will overload just about any server.
According to an interview with venturebeat.com, Bitstrips VP of marketing Shahan Panth says the company is exploring adding more premium content, including ads and special clothes that you can unlock for a fee.
He also states “We’ll also be bringing your Bitstrips character into the real world with plush toys … the next big brand is you and your friends.”
But, unlike many Facebook trends – this one you can turn off.
Find one of the Bitstrips posts that show up on your Facebook wall. Click on the blue arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post and select HIDE ALL FROM BITSTRIPS option.
Forget the old fashioned emoticons – it looks like Bitstrips is here to stay!
What: cartoon pics for social media and to share with friends
JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:
It’s cool that you no longer need a pen and paper to create a cartoon of yourself and this app is super easy to use. I’m sure it will make many school art teachers cringe, just another thing that can be done on the computer!
Just please control yourself and not upload a zillion cartoons at once, unless you’re in the mood to drive your friends nuts!