Social Networks are no longer the hip thing. But mobile social networks are increasing vying to emerge as the next big phenomenon. And at stake is the massive number of mobile phones that are expected to go into circulation.
Quotes from this International Herald Tribune article on social networking going mobile:
The prize, as these startups see it, is the 3.3 billion mobile phone subscribers around the world, a number that far surpasses the number of Internet surfers. And their advantage over the computer-based communities, they believe, is the cell phone’s innate ability to know where it is, thanks to global positioning satellite and related technologies.
The GPS capability adds a new dimension to presence online. Google’s Android SDK too made a lot of raves in the developer community with its ability to roughly calculate the GPS location of a mobile even with the absence of the GPS hardware on the mobile purely on the basis of signal reception from the nearest tower.
One comment from the article that makes a definite point is how established web majors may view the access to their sites on mobile as an extension to their web portals while start-ups take a wholly different approach to user experience. This is similar to the comments made by a mobile search start-up on why Google has not caught on the mobile front as well as it has dominated on the PC based web access.
Another point worth noting is that when it comes to mobile phones, the demographics are going to make a big difference. Hence the proliferation of mobile social networking outside the US is a very possible scenario. At the same time, with the kind of technology we have seen from Apple in its iPhone, there may be room for a lot more innovations in making the interface of mobile devices a lot more like mobile social portals.
Mobile phones based advertising has a lot more potential for relevant targeting as compared to PC based advertising. For one, with the advent of IPv6, there would be no dearth of IP addresses and targeting specific IPs would make a lot more sense. What firms have to figure out is how to target users to keep the annoyance factor less considering the lesser viewable area. Nonetheless with incentives such as ad based calls or ad based goodies, a diverse set of strategies can be deployed.
With an immense number of start-ups mushrooming in the mobile social networking space, there is perhaps more need for these firms to join data portability.org than the web biggies.
Have you taken to mobile social networking yet? What is your pick among the contenders?