Seeing the future – of Social (PART 2)

Well, the Mobile Social space continues to evolve. I’m a big fan of this category and am excited to see healthy growth and M&A activity. There is a post over at RW/W that covers the Future of Mobile Social Networking – check it out. One very exciting development is Vodofone’s acquisition of Zyb for $48.7m (USD). I really love their strategy (as I interpret it) – grow out of the phonebook/contact list. While doing one of my mobile stints, we would regularly debate the best entry point for viral/WOM growth in mobile – a few of us believed in the power of the Global Address Book (as we called it) and championed for the proper time and energy being allocated to development here. Now, Plaxo could be used to argue for (their successful exit) or against (late to social game) the approach – but either way I always looked at them as understanding that at the core of most peoples community/network(s) is in an address book(s) somewhere. This explains why many smart social networks ask you to import all of your contacts when you register and let you invite them at your own pace. If you are attempting to go viral and dont have an important contacts feature – good luck.

Now looking at how the Facebook Apps handled the same tactic proves you have to be very smart about how you handle this. If you piss off users by requiring them to spam all of their contacts, they are unlikely to ever invite anymore people. But, if you allow them to add a few at a time as they get comfortable with your service and brand, then they’ll be inclined to invite people as they see value of adding those people to the platform. This is incredibly important when you are a startup (no brand reputation) or are a mobile company (as the mobile is the most personal network for many). So, kudos to the mobile socials starting with the existing networks and attempting to augment the users mobile experience by adding social utility. I look forward to more great developments in this space going forward. I’m currently playing with BrighKite to see where it will go.

Go mobile, go social, go global…

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Comments
2 Responses to “Seeing the future – of Social (PART 2)”
  1. I think the key is simple, skinny applications that plug into your existing network and become an extension of it, just as your online network is an extension of your real-world network. Facebook and Twitter mobile applications are both great examples of how our online networks can spill over onto our cellphone. Standardization also appears to still be a problem, which is why I’m a big proponent of using SMS, everyone has it, everyone knows how to use it and it’s standardized. Twitter has done this really well, as has BirghtKite.

  2. gammill says:

    Thanks Jackie, I think Twitter has done great things for mobile social and I look forward to seeing how BrightKite evolves. SMS is a key factor as it demonstrates the value of extending the web experience to the mobile handset (which I think is a great contribution from Twitter). One of the companies I worked with built a rich user experience (Java) but ran on the SMS backbone – pretty elegant solution to ‘mobile internet’ for emerging markets. Standards are key for the future, as they usually are in any successful innovation. To me, it’s about starting with a known starting point and extending from there.

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