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Booyah, a new species of iPhone app

July 27, 2009 |  7:00 am

Take all the high-tech buzzwords you can think of, put them into a blender, flip the switch and voila! You have Booyah.

The free iPhone app, set to debut today, is part social application, part virtual community and part online game. Booyah's developers in Menlo Park, Calif., call it a game that helps you "level up in life." As with scout badges or gold stars, players earn points when they perform laudable tasks.

Booyah Logo Visited six countries in three months? Earn credit in the "Globe Trotter" category. Ladled soup at a homeless shelter? Give yourself points in the "Causes" section. Went to a yoga class? Advance in the "Fitness" category. These achievements are then posted on Facebook, where you can also check out your friends' accomplishments.

"We wanted to make it fun and compelling while also giving you a sense of accomplishment," said Booyah co-founder Keith Lee.

Booyah is a new breed of social apps that seek to unify all those online networks and link them with real-world activities. Because iPhones are equipped with GPS capabilities, they are able to validate their users' locations. This, as it turns out, is one of the keys to Booyah's business model.

Let's say, for example, ...

Booyah Screen

Screen shot of Booyah's iPhone app.

... the company does a sponsorship deal with Starbucks where players earn points for going to the store. The iPhone can validate the player's location and the app can automatically award points.

The app can also recommend concerts or shows in the area. Players who tap on the suggestion would be sent to the event's website, using the iPhone's Web browser. The player earns "Cultural Butterfly" points for attending a concert, and Booyah gets a referral fee.

Booyah is named after the urban slang word used when someone makes a slick move. The application itself is novel, and it takes time to grok since there are few things like it to which one can compare.

But that's okay, because the company making it has a little time before it needs to make money. It landed $4.5 million in venture funding last August from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Booyah!

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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