Monday, May 21, 2007

Mobilising Social Networks

The Telegraph reports Yahoo may buy Bebo (Facebook, having declined Yahoo's acquisition offer last year).

Whether it's true or not we'll have to wait and see. What's a potential acquisition like this this got to do with mobile though?

Network Operators see Social Networking as a way of extending mobile communications & services to their customers, beyond just access to these 3rd party sites... myFaves by T-Mobile US is a (homegrown) example, whereby a mini-social network (5 of your friends/family/contacts) are free to call.

Initial high-profile partnership deals by Orange/Bebo and Vodafone/MySpace in Europe have also recently taken place as they test the waters of promoting access to mobile versions (with limited functionality) of the web based social networks.

Facebook, flickr, and flirtomatic etc.. have mobile clients or access via the mobile browser already (mobile web). Even business networks sites such as Xing I note have also recently announced mobile access (when's the mobile version of LinkedIn coming I wonder ?)...

The social network sites (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc..) know their users will inevitably want mobile access to their own and their friends homepages, as they are a form of communication and identity. So, staying in touch with your peer group and it's changes via the homepage is vital for the digital native today. Being able to access this whilst mobile is the driver.

Yahoo are already in the mobile on-device-client/portal space with Yahoo Go (1.0) and more recently Yahoo Go (2.0) as well as providing mobile browser access via for several of the Yahoo services. Flickr (if you perceive Flickr as a social network based around photos) is already integrated into the Yahoo Go 2.0 client.

Adding large, popular social network(s) into their mobile offering might seem attractive to be able to further leverage potential preinstallation of the Yahoo Go client (via handset manufacturers) and more deals with the European and north American Network Operators/Carriers.