Friday, November 09, 2007

Mobile SNS -- Google vs Nokia?

I attended 'Social Networking Services - Hype or Money Spinner?' seminar earlier today. Hall of fame of Finnish SNS developers (managers, researchers...) plus "SNS gurus" Scott Rafer and Joseph O´Sullivan were talking about SNS: case studies, revenue models, SNS eco-system and way to build value for user community/brand/media.

I do not have the full coverage from the event because I couldn't stay for the afternoon. Anyhow, I would like to share some of my notes from the event. Also some videos will be available at:

For SNS developers efficient utilization of networking and social "doing" is a must (obviously). Developers should ponder whether to focus on vertical, horizontal and/or exlusive communities. Meaning: do you build your own SNS, utilize existing service(e.g. FB) or focus on specific niché or exclusive group of users (Smallworld, vampire freaks, doctors network and such).

Nr. 1 revenue model still is advertising, which is boring. Sulake and other online game(ish) services have done a great job in developing novel revenue models, e.g. selling virtual items, in game advertising etc. Despite the case, majority of SNS seem to focus on increasing their subscription rate or number of active users in able to sell more banner ads. Yihaa!

Business people seemed to be really excited about the new networking activities happening within various business networks. They were eagerly telling how they use LinkedIn or Facebook. That is great alright, but from a youth researcher's viewpoint it is funny to notice how little "SNS gurus" know about youth and their media use. They acknowledge that 0-25 year olds haven't experienced a world without the Internet. Then why is it so difficult to follow what the kids are doing online. These web2.0 trends are definitely a cultural issue. It is not just about Myspace or Facebook, it is about a paradigm shift from homepage driven static web to dynamic social hint networks where it is relevant to leave your own mark, rank and rate things and build your reputation which is not your online reputation, it is YOUR reputation per sé -- nicely blending web presence with the real world one.

It was also entertaining by Nokia's presentation. Nokia is trying to expand their business from mobile phones to "online company". That is totally cool, a thing they really should get a hold on. Nokia has been restating their approach which currently is: 1) providing interface to mobile internet, 2) creating mobile services and 3) renewing the way of working by focusing on "tribes" inside the company and with partners.

The development surely is interesting and very worthwhile as it is already now starting to be less relevant if you are logged in via PC, PDA, iTV, PSP or mobile phone. As long as you are logged in and communicating within your online communities often as long as it is convenient for you. Most of you know that where as Nokia is expanding from mobile to the web, Google is expanding from web to mobile. Who would succeed? Both? If I would bring to a head I'd say this is a race between an elephant and a chameleon. Of course that is not totally the case. Instead of size it is more about grasping the moment, understanding the mobility at its best, make it simple, NECESSARY and act fast! Nevertheless the race between Nokia and Google will be an interesting one.

Google basics: offices in 26 countries, 15,916 emplyees (~10 new employees per day on average), 158 domains and more than 100 languages, R&D in the USA and Bangalore, focused on buying expertise and companies, "Open" approach, selling advertise space (AdSense).

Slogan: "Don't be evil"
Mission statement: "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Known products or services: Gmail, Google earth, Google search, Google alert, YouTube, Blogger...

Nokia basics: R&D presence in 11 countries, production facilities in 9 countries, offices in 30 countries, 68 483 emplyees, "Closed"approach, selling mobile phones and appliances.

Slogan: "Connecting people"
Mission statement ("sort of" because I couldn't find the official one if there's any): "Dedicated to enhancing people's lives and productivity by providing easy-to-use and secure products like mobile phones, and solutions for imaging, games, media, mobile network operators and businesses."

Known products or services: N-Gage [sidetalking;)], Nokia phones, Nokia networks, MyNokia?

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