As far as predictions go this one is fairly obvious: 2009 should be a breakout year for Mobile Social Networks: Always-on, Context-aware devices + microblogging behaviour comes together to create possibilities far exceeding those of PC-based media.
This feels so wrong and uncool, but I have a confession to make: I prefer microblogging my status on mobile Facebook than on mobile Twitter.
In fact, I’m hooked and check status regularly on Facebook mobile (m.facebook.com). No special app, just the mobile site. First thing I see is a list of statuses (stati?). Most of my Nokia colleagues are on Facebook, and are doing the same. Even though Facebook was clearly not set up as a mobile network, it is working just fine for us.
I spoke to Christine Perey about this when she visited us at Nokia HQ. She somewhat patronizingly said it must be that Nokia Employees do not know about the “better” mobile social networks and the technical enablers that are available. That is rubbish of course, partly because we’re building some interesting ones.
What this actually proves is the power of the network. Metcalfe’s Law. The value of a telecommunications network proportional to the square of the number of people in the network.
Value of a Social Network to an individual =Uex(N)2
Where Uex = the quality of the User Experience and features to the individual, and N = the number of people in the network… or at least the number of people the individual cares about.
Since more people I care about are spending their time on Facebook than on Twitter, it appeals to me much more, even if it is not designed with microblogging in mind. (Although the fact that you can comment on a status seems much better than having to put @someone, which seems a very clumsy way to communication to me: wastes valuable characters and means you can’t easily see a conversation stream).
I mentioned once to Jyri Engeström (founder of Jaiku, former Nokian and all around nice fella) in Helsinki that the barrier to entry for microblogging has been going down as people realise that it is after all just like updating your Facebook status. People don’t think they are microblogging, but they are regularly updating their status (especially if they check Facebook from their mobile device). Now Jyri is hoping to move the industry forward by achieving an interoperable microblogging network, which would get over this need for people to be using the same service as each other. Then the value can truly be in the Uex, and we can get back to building remarkable social services, without the size of the network being the determining factor in people’s decisions.