Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mobile Social Networking gaining momentum

We are seeing some momentum in the mobile social networking space. I wasn’t surprised by this trend. I’m really excited and positive on this trend. With the phenomenal growth rate of mobile user base, it makes perfect sense to support some of the functionality that was a big hit on the web. Social networking is one among them.

Except for the form factor and display of the handset, I think it’s a great strategy to support this kind of interface to the users from the handset.
Currently, I can see two types of models that’s been catching up with social networking on mobile

Mobile interface to the social networking web
Given the phenomenal success of MySpace and facebook, it’s very natural for these social networking companies to extend their access beyond the web to mobile. These Web centric communities provide mobile interface to access the web. However, mobile subscribers are owned by the operators and any customization of the handsets to access these sites require operators blessing. Off course, you could do it without the operators, but there is lot of advantages with this kind of partnership. (All u need is a data connection with a browser to access these websites) Some of the operators have already jumped into this bandwagon, to name a few are vodofone, ATT,T-Mobile, sprint, Verizon, Virgin Mobile, Helio etc.

Mobile used as a social networking platform
Instead of providing access to the existing online social communities, some startups are building social community with mobile as a platform. Looks like this is a hot space, VC’s are pouring in lot of money. Companies like Bluepulse, MocoSpace, Nokia,and SayNow etc are building social networking using the mobile as platform. ( Recently Bluepulse and MocoSpace raised 6 million and 3 million dollars respectively)
Infact, Nokia is the first-ever handset vendor to launch social networking. Mosh by Nokia aims to bridge the gap between the mobile and desktop social networking with their cross-platform design. With this client, user can - upload, share, collect, or download various media from your mobile phone as well as desktop. Other companies vying to stake out a place in mobile community business are twitter,groovr,jaiku etc. Worthy of mention is Fox launching free Myspace mobile.

I was looking at these Mobile 2.0 slides from slideshare. Pretty impressive. If you guys want to look at the mobile 2.0 startup ecosystem, this is a great presentation. I like the summary of different companies that are playing a bigger role in the mobile 2.0 space. Check out the list of companies, interesting to see so many startups trying to find a niche for themselves. Also, check out my previous Article for some explanation of mobile 2.0.

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