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What IS a mobile social network?

In Mobile social networks, don’t go it alone Katie Fehrenbacher writes:

The web-based social network boom and the rising use of cell phones for non-voice functions, makes the trendy ‘mobile social network’ phenomenon an obvious area for investment. But the reality is that it’s difficult to base a business off of just turning an unknown brand into a single mobile social network.

The rest of the piece goes on to talk about the difficulties of porting the social networking experience (say, for instance, MySpace) to a mobile environment, or creating a new social networking experience in the mobile environment.   Is porting an existing social networking experience a handset the right experience, though?  Handsets are different from PCs, and from the web.  Location, bandwidth, cost, and presence are all different in a handset environment than a PC environment.  Moreover, handsets contain the core asset of the social network, which is the address book.

Perhaps as we think about social networks on mobile devices, the core experience shouldn't be shared content, but rather shared experiences.  Rather than emulate MySpace on a handset, perhaps the right experience is closer to facebook.  Or, dare I say it, for business users… iotum's own Talk-Now.

Food for thought.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Peter Childs May 9, 2007, 7:19 pm

    I’d agree that the value of mobile social networks is in enhancing shared physical experience.

    The issue in my mind is that online social networks aren’t currently granular enough in their definition of relationship – and that’s a key requirement for platforms that connect people in physical space.

    I can be friends with someone in one situation and not what to meet them in another. At the same time I don’t want to have to specify a relationship parameter for everyone – both because it’s to time consuming and because it doesn’t suit the flexible way that people manage the different types of relationships they have with people in different situations.

    In other words it’s got to learn – possibly notifying me of potential social connection and then using proximity (blue tooth etc) between devices to deduce whether connection was sought or avoided, GPS to deduce situation (work, shopping etc) and then layer on some of the relevance stuff you’re working on to get at the psychological intangibles and you could build programmatically something similar to the situational rules that people use to govern their interactions in physical space.

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