E-Cards are over 10 years old and still in my opinion one of the most viral things on the web. When you receive an e-card, it’s instinct to send one back to that person — and likely to someone else that has been on your mind. But the old dogs limit the number of free e-cards they offer and charge for more glorified cards (bleh!).
What about an e-card you could send to someone with your actual voice greeting (e.g. “Happy Birthday Mom — sorry I can’t be there to help you ‘over the hill’, but I’ll be home to visit you in 2 weeks! Love you!”). This might be already done, but I haven’t heard of it yet.
This idea creates very personal e-cards to the recipients. I could see this application being used not only for special occasions, but just anything — maybe instead of jotting down an email to someone, the user would rather vocalize something (i.e. I could see myself doing this when I hear a new song or discover a new band online — I send out these ‘OMFG’ emails to my close music friends, but would much rather express my passion/enthusiasm in a voice recording).
Now there’s a couple ways this could be done — first, if the user has a microphone hooked up to their computer, we could present the user with a Flash recording widget that’s embedded in a webpage. The user simply hits record on the widget, and it begins recording through the user’s microphone. (Also, this could just as easily record video from the user — and thus give the recipient a video e-card with actual video greetings by the user).
The second method, and more practical method for users I believe, would be a VXML application. Simply, the user would go to the website, select an e-card template, pay a nominal fee ($0.50? $1?), then our system would automatically call the user’s phone number (that they input) and ask the user to record a greeting up to 3 (?) minutes long. (The user could listen to the greeting and rerecord if necessary). Once the user is satisfied with their voice greeting, they hit the ‘*’ key and their greeting is attached to the e-card. Maybe the webpage auto-updates to show the full e-card to the user now — and then the user can choose to have it sent to the recipient(s) now (or a designated date/time).
*BONUS IDEA ONE*: Going along with the personal video idea — Revver has an API that allows you to create a video easily via another application. You could create an application that integrates with Revver to allow users to easily create a personalized video e-card greeting to someone.
*BONUS IDEA TWO*: There aren’t many video e-card websites yet — you could create a website where you pre-select loving / seasonal (Valentine’s Day related; Xmas related; etc) / funny videos from YouTube/Revver/MetaCafe/etc and embed them all on your website … allowing a user to send any of them as an e-card to anyone they’d like. You could monetize this idea with advertising — as well as affiliate links to relevant products for sale via etailers. (Maybe you could do the same with Flickr photos?).
You could also create a bookmarklet or plugin that operates with YouTube/Revver/MetaCafe and thus when a user is on a YouTube video page, they click the bookmarklet and instantly create an e-card that uses that video in it, and send it to another user. [Users might find this more useful then YouTube’s own ’email to a friend’ capabilities — and you’d drive more pageviews to your website].
*BONUS IDEA THREE*: Use #2 above with a new Evite type of system — so when you send out a quick invite to friends for a happy hour, the user can quickly include a pre-selected funny drunken video that exists on YouTube. Or for a birthday party — the user can quickly select a pre-selected funny birthday video. Etc.
*BONUS IDEA FOUR*: What about this bookmarklet / plugin that while you’re surfing YouTube, you could send a video to a friend, but rather than just sending a text comment about it — you could quickly record an audio or video comment that sends with the video (and plays prior to the video playing, or is a separate attachment in the email).