Friday, October 8, 2010

The relevance of mobile only social networks

A few years ago, MySpace and Facebook were the leaders of Social Networks on the desktop platform.  To consider them mobile was only if you had a laptop, or didn’t mind the extreme limited capabilities of the WAP interfaces.  Smartphones were not as common in the hands of the average user, either.  During this time, mobile only social networks started to emerge and fill in the void.  Sights like MobaMingle, and MocoSpace gave users the ability to have their social networking on the go, especially if the phone was their only means of being online.  However, here we are in the age of Android and iOS.  Smartphones and tablets are in the hands of millions.  Facebook and MySpace both have caught up to the mobile movement and have intuitive mobile versions of their desktop counterparts.  Is mobile specific social networks relevant any longer?

The problem with mobile specific social networks today is that they seem stuck.  They don’t look much different from what they looked like 5 years ago.  They all seem to think that a majority of users are using 12 digit keypads and non-touch based phones.  Guess what people, a lot of people have moved on to Android phones, iPhones, or Blackberry’s.  We rarely bother ourselves with physical keys anymore.  These yesteryear designed sites still rely on small links designed for d-pads and physical clicking of “ok” buttons.

With MySpace and Facebook apps, making these social networks extremely mobile, keeps them relevant.  They have evolved and ensured they are embedded in our daily lives.  Uploading images, videos, and status’s is fast, easy and convenient.  No need to open a browser, navigate to the site, log in, and then proceed to use dilapidated mobile web tools to try and upload content.  Mobile exclusive social networks face these challenges.  Sure, smartphone browsers are amazingly powerful and in-depth, but the feel of having to use them to accomplish these tasks when Facebook and MySpace are right there as applications on your phone make it a tedious adventure, at best.

To maintain relevance against Facebook and MySpace, a number of mobile social networks are developing apps for iPhone and Android.  Look at Shoutem.  They are hard at work at rolling out an app to tie user made social networks into the single app to give users the ability to take their experience with them.  Even Twitter has embraced the app movement on the smartphones.

Mobile relevance is key today.  More people are moving to powerful smartphones that are literal Swiss Army tech knives.

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