Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Killer Apps in Mobile Social Networking-Part 2

I posted earlier this week on potential candidates for the next Killer Application in Mobile Social Networking, identifying the following 4 potential candidates (so far):

-Mobile Dating Apps
-Mobile Social Network Aggregrators
-Virtual World or Second Life type applications with chat
-Phone Address Book

Here are my thoughts on the latter two candidates:

Second Life type applications with chat

There is no doubt that people are spending more and more time in virtual worlds. A company called Vollee has already released a public beta that allows you to make a connection to the Second Life Grid while handling the technical heavy lifting of rendering objects. The company then streams video output to your phone like any other media file.

By combining SL or other virtual worlds with chat on a mobile phone, a new dimension opens up for social interaction on mobile-anonymous and faceless maybe, but also with fewer boundaries than in the ‘real’ world. These characteristics may make it the next killer application in mobile social networking (at least in Japan, where anonymity in social networks is valued highly).

The Phone Address Book

The humble phone address book has been, is and will be one of the cornerstones of the social dimension of the mobile phone. Before anyone learnt to SMS, they learnt to add contacts to the phone address book. And when anyone loses their mobile phone, the thing they grieve about the most is the loss of their phone contacts.

The phone address book is the mobile social network par excellence –albeit a bit limited in its current state. But, let’s think about this…ALL one’s valuable contacts are already in the address book (no need to ‘add’ any friends), often with full contact details (including e-mail) and a photo…all we need is for a phone manufacturer to transform the phone book from its current state and integrate things like ‘preferences’, photo tagging and maybe some location-related info (“where are my contacts?”) and hey presto, you have a powerful social network ready to use!

Ok, some issues around privacy remain (will everyone be willing to make their phone address book public?) but the trend amongst mobile handset manufacturers is definitely towards beefing up their mobile software applications, and what better way to do this by transforming the now old-fashioned address book?