5 popular apps with better Armenian versions

There was a time when hailing a cab was the only way to get anywhere. Ordering take-out on the phone was the only way to avert starvation. Snail Mail was the only way for our friends to see pictures of our breakfasts. Calling up annoying distant cousins was the only way to get a cheap stay in Paris. Teenagers had to endure hysterical phone calls by worried parents. Luckily, humanity has laboured hard to put the dark times of pre-2007 behind us. Smartphones have placed all of our modern needs at apps-reach. Whatever problem may arise, there’s always an app for that!…And for every app…there is a better Armenian app for that!

For a tiny country tucked into the Caucasus Mountains, Armenia has produced its fair share of disruption apps. Many of which have come to rival competitors with international renown.

1- Uber vs. GG

The (in)famous transport-hailing app Uber is generally recognised as a ‘sharing-economy’ pioneer. The service, which allows passengers to hail rides from anyone with a car in good condition has since expanded to 570 cities worldwide. The app has garnered both praise for its innovative tech, and criticism for its disruption of the taxi industry, treatment of drivers and more. Uber has also been implicated in a number of high-profile affairs, including lawsuits and a sexual harassment scandal. The company has been criticised for its cutthroat corporate culture as well.

The better Armenian version:

The Armenian transportation networking company GG may look like an Uber clone, but don’t be fooled. Unlike Uber, which struggles within the legal grey-zone between taxi regulations and employee relations, the transport environment that GG developed in was already unregulated. The absence of legal restrictions to operating public transport means that rides are already extremely affordable, and competition fierce. Instead of competing on price, GG disrupts the industry by focusing on passenger experience. The company vets drivers and cars carefully, while a 5-star rating system allows clients to regulate the service better than any government agency. Unlike Uber, GG has yet to be involved in any sexual harassment scandal or employment lawsuit. The firm, which closed series A funding from Granatus Ventures, has since improved their service with online payment options, price estimations, and other features which have greatly improved the riding experience. GG has already expanded into neighbouring Georgia and has plans for further growth in the region. Who knows, you might have a GG service in your city soon.

2- Airbnb vs. Ginosi

AirBnB invites its 30 million users to do more than visit places they travel to, but to live there as well. Based on this vision, travellers and homeowners have revolutionised the hospitality industry. Aside from cutting into revenues for major hotels, the company has spawned a culture of its own. People have begun to run their own little ersatz hotels out of their homes, and sometimes, entire apartment buildings. High concentrations of Airbnb locations in certain neighbourhoods have artificially raised rent prices for local residents. Another unforeseen side-effect of AirBnB culture is the appearance of a sponteaneous imitation decor fitting rentals from Paris to Tokyo. Kyle Chayka refers to the phenomenon of AirBnB flats with reclaimed wood, Edison bulbs, and refurbished industrial lighting popping up across the globe as “Airspace”. He argues that instead of emphasising the unique styles and tastes of each part of the world, Airbnb, and the culture which it spawned, pushes for homogenising the banal.

The better Armenian version:

Enter Ginosi Apartels. This application, founded by two American-Armenians in Yerevan allows frequent travellers to fuse the convenience of regular hotels with a sense of personality when staying overnight in different cities. Unlike Airbnb, Ginosi offers a standardised apartment experience for guests, with cleaning and check-in services included. The company carefully curates and tailors the guest experience. The service also maintains its buildings in carefully selected locations. Ginosi operates apartels in 9 cities and is constantly adding new locations.

3- Instagram vs. PicsArt

Since launching in 2010, Instagram became an instant hit. Apparently, the ability to take square shaped pictures, reminiscent of old-fashioned polaroids, add filters and sharing with your friends can get you quite the following. The app has created its own cultural phenomenon, sparking online trends like #Throwbackthursday and more.

The better Armenian version:

Founded in 2011 by Hovhannes Avoyan and Artavazd Mehrabyan, PicsArt was devised as a way for young creators to turn the pictures they took on their smartphones into virtual works of Art. The app combines photo-sharing and social media aspects of Instagram and Flickr with the versatile photo-editing tools of Photoshop with an artistic twist (the best part is you can even share your PicsArt creations on Instagram). PicsArt received over $15 million in series B funding from Sequoia and other investors are banking on building a fun and engaging social media function around its photo-editing tool. The addition of collaborative editing, challenges, and the #Remixit function have helped build a 300 million-strong userbase, trailing only its aforementioned competitor. Unlike Instagram, which has gone out of its way to copy every aspect of Snap chat available, PicsArt has built its success around its own identity.

4- JustEat vs. Menu.am

The Anglo-Danish food-delivery conglomerate, Just-Eat dominates the European and North-American market. The company partners with various restaurants and receives an 11% commission on the delivery of each meal to customers. The company attributes its success to its ability to read and forecast future markets to grow into.

The better Armenian version:

Though neither JustEat or Menu.am are pioneers in this field, and both follow a fundamentally similar business model, Menu.am has introduced some innovations to the industry. Starting out in Yerevan, the company took advantage of the fact that many Armenians have relatives living abroad. The platform thus allows people living as far away as Los Angeles or Moscow to order and pay for anything from groceries to restaurant meals, or flowers for friends and family living across the world. The company also reinvested a lot of its earnings, and sources of financing into developing its technology, better customer service and buying a fleet of scooters, ensuring that orders are always fulfilled on time. Users also rave about their personal customer service.The company has since expanded into Georgia and Belarus.

5- WhatsApp vs. Zangi

WhatsApp totally disrupted the SMS. Anyone with a phone and Internet connection could send messages to anyone else across the Globe. When WhatsApp later introduced audio and video calls, they sent GSM operators running for their money. Since being acquired by Facebook, however, the application has faced controversy after controversy. Despite initially promising to keep the app and its user base separate, evidence was leaked that Facebook was collecting WhatsApp user data. It was later revealed that WhatsApp encryption was not as flawless as touted. Backdoors were quickly discovered, putting the personal information and files of a billion users at risk.

The better Armenian version:

The Silicon Valley-based Startup Secret Phone Inc. released its flagship product, the Zangi mobile app back in 2009. Conceived in their Yerevan R&D office, this cross-platform instant messaging and video calling application was designed from the start with true end-to-end encryption in mind. Unlike WhatsApp or other apps like Viber and Google’s Allo, Zangi does not store information about users, or conversations in 3rd party servers. Furthermore, Zangi allows users to make high-quality audio and video calls using very little bandwidth, or unstable WiFi connections. The app now runs on both iOS and Android devices. Zangi calls typically use up less than half the data typically consumed by WhatsApp. With only 5 million active users, Zangi has a lot of catching up to do. But with advantages like these, it’s not hard to see how easily this app will catch on.