Blu Cigs Social Feature – Useful or a Huge Waste of Time?
By Lindsay Fox Posted August 12, 2013
One of the major features in the marketing for blu Cigs is the portable charging case’s “Social Feature,” accompanied by some particularly optimistic statements. According to blu, “Smoking is a social activity, so why shouldn't your electronic cigarette pack be packed with social features?” This speculative statement is followed by an introduction to the idea, which is a portable charging case which emits a cell phone-like vibration and lights up when you’re within 50 feet of a retail outlet that stocks blu or another blu user. The marketing spiel calls it “the perfect ice-breaking opportunity,” but it seems like reality wouldn't quite match up to the expectation. Has blu tried to sell us all a useless piece of crap, or is there something more to the “Social Feature?”
The main advantage of the Social Feature from blu isn't really social at all, it’s much more practical. It’s good to know where you can pick up cartridges, accessories and spare batteries for your e-cig, and whilst you might have a good idea of what you can get in your home town, the same might not be true if you’re in unfamiliar territory. Having the pack vibrate when you’re near a retailer has clear benefits. Anything else positive to say about the pack? Well, apart from the benefit in the basic functionality of a portable charging case, not really. You can turn the Social Feature off, which is a bonus.
All you need to do to realize the problem with the Social Feature is to actually picture it in use. There you are, hanging out on the street, at a party, or anywhere – and your blu charging case starts to vibrate. At this point, you know that one of two things is happening, you’re either near a blu eCigs retailer or somebody somewhere within 50 feet of you is going through the exact same experience. You’re confused – of course – dumbly looking around to work out if you’re near a retailer or whether a complete stranger is about to walk up to you to have an impromptu conversation about an e-cig.
The vaping community is one of the cool things about e-cigs, but would you really be the one to approach a complete stranger in a non-Vapefest setting and try to kick-start a conversation about blu? Perhaps at a party – after a few drinks had been consumed – you’d be up for the bizarre conversation, but the signature blue-colored tip and the vapor would have surely alerted you to that fact anyway.
Ultimately you’ll have to look for the tip and vapor no matter what (unless blu updates the “Social Feature” to be something more accurately described as a radar tracking device), so what does the vibration really add? Aside from a vaguely ominous feeling that somebody is looking for you when your pack vibrates, it’s hard to imagine any use at all. blu founder Jason Healy said, “It's funny to watch people look around and look for the person and go, ‘Hey! Hey!’ They hold their pack up.” Assumedly, instead of “funny” he meant to say “cringe-inducing and awkward.”
It’s simple: at a party you’d probably talk to the fellow e-cig user anyway, and in the street or at any larger gathering you’d seem like you’re fresh out of the crazy factory. And if you’re on the receiving-end of this conversation, you’d basically feel like you had a special magnet in your pocket with the ability to attract people who don’t respect personal boundaries.
But it gets even worse. It seems like the future holds some type of social media integration for the pack. This will apparently allow you some control over what information you share, but if you’re silly enough to leave anything available, you’re basically broadcasting your web presence to anybody else who uses blu. If only somebody would have invented a way in which you can share information with people you choose to… oh wait, we came up with language, right? And we have vocal cords? Unless you want to make friends with people on the basis of the brand of e-cigs they vape but don’t actually want to talk to them, then this proposed update takes something already useless and makes it even worse.
Despite the (limited) practical benefits, the “Social Feature” still stands out as a pointless, ill-considered marketing tool. It initially seems like it could be cool, but with internet-equipped smart-phones sitting in our pockets at all times it’s about as redundant as a VHS player. Nature has given us eyes to identify like-minded people (and fellow e-cig users), and also mouths, vocal chords and brains which we can use to communicate with people that are close enough to us. All blu has done is use a transparent marketing ploy to try and make you part way with your cash.
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