22 Jan 2010 12:00 pm   //   Filed under: Technology

Blippy: You know, for kids.

When I first heard about Blippy, the site that lets you broadcast, Twitter-style, every purchase you make with your credit card, I reacted like any sane person. “Stupid idea,” I thought. Pass.

A few days later, it occurred to me that this is actually a really smart idea. You see, Blippy isn’t for me. But it’s perfect for college students.

I’m about to generalize here, but I think I’m mostly right. Today’s college students love to use credit and debit cards. (Years ago I remember watching in horror as a student in line ahead of me charged a single bagel. Now I get the sense everybody in every college town buys everything with plastic.) Students also love to share every snippet of information about their lives online (see: Facebook). And above all, they love being in constant contact with their parents, who are often long distances away.

Enter Blippy. It’s about charging everything and sharing everything. And you can imagine its usefulness to parents who want to track how their kids are spending their money. It’s tailor-made for college students and their families!

Why is this good for Blippy? Because college is where many consumers begin forming their communications habits. I entered school in the pre-Facebook, analog-cell-phone era, so I’m still a little bit conservative about what I share online, and even how often I call home. I was groomed to think there’s a meter running whenever I make a long-distance call, ticking off a dime a minute. It’s a powerful feeling to shake, even in the age of unlimited long-distance. People just a few years younger than me have adopted radically different habits. They’re more likely to call home several times a day, rather than once a week. Students who started using Facebook in college are now adults using Facebook at work. (Clutch move, Facebook.)

I don’t know exactly what sort of business Blippy will become, but a real-time data stream of what people are buying has obvious value. Potentially, it’s vastly more useful than Twitter. The hurdle is getting a large segment of the public to voluntarily sign up for it. It sounds like the hurdle could be solved first among college students. Blippy just needs to rope in the kids and bide its time.