Mobile access to our Social Networks isn’t a new concept. But the potential of mobile Social Networking has yet to be fully realized. Could location-based Social Networking be the “kill app” of mobile devices?
“Discuss location-based social networks, the benefits, the possibilities, the privacy issues.”
So my notes go. As a starter, I thought I’d let that stand. Certainly helps hone right in on what I have in mind.
It’s not often I find myself praising Mick Arrington for venturing into the blue skies of mobile innovation imaginings, but here I am, doffing my cap in his direction:
“The goal here isn’t just to let users see where their friends are and what they are up to. The killer app is to facilitate meeting new people — either for dating, or business. Subject to privacy controls, of course.”
Even stranger still is me praising MyBlogLog for their recent location-aware experiment, especially after going out of my way to bash MyBlogLog not too long ago:
“… an ‘experiment’ by MyBlogLog … that leverages Bluetooth technology to discover the people around you. The Java-based service, previously named ‘Meetspace’ but now known as MBL Mobile, works on both Bluetooth-enabled laptops and Blackberrys.”
Your mobile Social Network
Between the MyBlogLog experiment and Mick’s iPhone-only mobile Social Network, there’s the makings of a powerful, versatile and exceptionally viral service that could give rise to a totally new class of micro-blogging; one that is purely activity-based.
Move over Twitter, this social web app’ really flies!
An example might be of you stuck an anonymous airport somewhere, seeing that your flight is delayed for 4 hours. You could take out your mobile phone, tap out a missive of disgust and start a series of flash mobs based on a delay by a particular airline across dozens of airports, sharing the excuses being doled out to you by the check-in crew and draw almost instant attention to their poor customer service.
Imagine the brand implications? Imagine those regular flyers, who are effectively Super Advocates and their power to influence other passengers?
These people go from being just another passenger to an influential voice that can turn off thousands of potential passengers, persuading them to use another airline, almost at the press of a button.
In a very minimal way, Twitter sort of has that kind of power, but there’s no theme to hang these ideas on. Mobile users have very different needs to their seated brethren; maybe they’re in a departure lounge for either a train or an aeroplane, in commute or motorway / freeway traffic, in a meeting or at a party somewhere.
All work and no play? Not in the mobile age
You’re at a friends’ house party in San Francisco and it’s your first time there. Your friend introduces you to someone new and seemingly interesting. You talk, you smile, you pledge to chat again later and part company for a while.
You’re intrigued by this fellow guest, helped by the fact that they’re quite attractive.
Stepping out onto the balcony with a drink in one hand and your mobile phone in the other, you look them up on Facebook. Straight away, you’re rewarded with a whole host of details about their interests, the places they’ve been, as well as the other people they know — some of which you know, too.
The next conversation is much more productive. And your visit to their Facebook profile wasn’t interpreted as either intrusive or rude. In fact, they did the same thing to you!
As you prepare to leave, you check your phone. You see a list of electronic business cards stacked at the bottom of the screen. Your own business card was also sent out to all those who were accepting them.
To the side of the business cards was a series of invites to events related to the kind of events you’d attended previously, ranked by proximity to where you live.
At the top of the screen is a friend request from Facebook. You smile to yourself as you wave back to your friend one last time before leaving.
In the event of friends, fill glass and remain seated
With your laptop satchel over your shoulder and business cards at the ready, you walk out of the cool, sunlit morning air into the shadow of the building playing host to the event you’re about to attend.
Walking through the revolving doors, you’re greeted with a smile from the event staff at a desk, who hand you your name badge.
This is the first time you’ve been to such an event, but you caught mention of a few other people on Twitter and Pownce saying they were attending, too.
You take out your iPhone and quickly tap into your Location Status “Anyone else here on Pownce? it’s StagNight393”
Within minutes, messages begin to pour in “Sure dude! I’m at the bar — big surprise LOL!!! What ye having?”
The business of mobile Social Networks
From a business perspective, the shrewd sales director could seriously shmooze someone by leveraging the immediacy of their mobile data, which is effectively an extension to their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool set.
As well as giving rise to a whole new class of micro-blogging application, a wide array of business applications might emerge, also. Serving varying needs, based on specific types of activity. Might we see such things as micro data mining?
As you step out of the elevator, a beaming smile greats you, spread wide across a face you haven’t seen in years.
“It’s been a while, uh?” The man asks rhetorically as he thrusts out an open hand towards you.
“Jim! Man, it’s good to you see you!” You remark warmly, grabbing him by the hand.
“So what’s new?” Jim asks, keen to catch up on old times.
Over the course of the next two hours, you lurch from your golf handicap to the broken down Golf you had at college.
Turns out that Jim’s the head of marketing for a brand name pharmaceutical company. You’re into freight logistics. Try as you might to avoid talking shop, Jim wears you down with stories of delayed shipments and whole consignments caught in customs.
Now, all of those goods are in temporary storage, pending their logistics team organizing the trucks to come and take them away. But that means more delays.
You take out your mobile phone and quickly perform a search of your logistics supply chain, based on location. In an instant, you’re appraised of available vehicles and storage capacity in your locale for several different locations, along with expected delivery times.
On top of which, you’re able to set up a dialogue between Jim and his team with your logistics people, first thing tomorrow.
Now, what was the score to yesterday’s game again?
The world on the move
All good technologies are needs-driven. One of the goals of all good technology is to meet with those needs specifically.
People are now more & more on the move. But those always-on mobile devices are like a big target painted on our backs.
We’re at a point in time where technology is no longer the barrier it once was, leaving the way clear for further innovations to target our needs, no matter where we happen to be…