Mobile and Social Convergence Predictions for 2008 & Beyond

February 21, 2008 by Lisa Oshima | Mobile, Social Media

Last year, I wrote a post with predictions for mobile in 2007 and beyond, using inCode’s  “Top 10 Global Wireless Predictions for 2007” as a starting point.  We’re almost 2 months into 2008, and it’s the perfect time to re-visit those predictions to see what came true, and make a few more predictions for 2008 and beyond.

Topping both InCode’s and my own predictions for 2007 was the mobilization of social networks.  To date, while social networks aren’t nearly as mobile as I’d like, they’re taking big strides and moving in the right direction.  In October 2007, Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook) spoke at CTIA in San Francisco on the importance of mobilizing social applications and announced Facebook’s first mobile application (for RIM).  And, in one of the most exciting things to happen since I started blogging, Dustin Moskovitz read my post expressing disappointment about Facebook’s mobile announcement and solicited my input on how to improve Facebook’s mobile strategy and WAP site.

In other exciting mobile social networking news in 2007, ShoZu (one of my consulting clients), who makes it easy for users to interact with their favorite social networking sites from their phone, was nominated for a TechCrunch Crunchies Award.  And, in early 2008, ShoZu announced that ShoZu will ship on 50 Million Mobile phones in 2008, the number of users downloading the app from non-pre-installed phones is doubling quarterly, and 100,000 users are registering for ShoZu every month!  With stats like that, it’s clear that mobile OEMs and Operators are buying into the mobile social networking proposition, and users are embracing mobile social networking in droves.  Mobile social networking on the whole will continue to increase in popularity in 2008, and mobile accessibility will improve dramatically, as mobile browsers and social media apps get better.

inCode also predicted that in 2007, “Multi-Function Devices [will] Become Cheaper and More Versatile” – including the introduction of video-capable, GPS-enabled, and LBS-capable devices to the masses.  Video-capable devices are definitely here to stay.  GPS-enabled devices haven’t saturated the market, but LBS is taking off.  Google Maps recently incorporated LBS via network triangulation, and while triangulation isn’t nearly as accurate as GPS, it’s still very useful.  It’s great to see carriers like AT&T opening up triangulation to allow mobile internet technologies to leverage LBS.

A year ago, I predicted that in 2008, “large mobile operators and OEMs will begin to pre-load devices with social networking-focused applications that incorporate GPS.”  It seems that mobile operators are moving in the right direction, based on several new product announcements at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona earlier this month.  OEMs like Nokia and Sony Eriksson are jumping on the GPS bandwagon in 2008 with innovative handsets with built-in GPS and designs that rival the iPhone.  Once GPS technology is more readily available on slimmer handsets, the influx of GPS-enabled social applications will come.  By 2009, interacting with friends from your mobile phone and locating people near you so that you can interact with them in real life will get easier thanks to new GPS enabled handsets and apps.

Last year, I also predicted: “collaborative and community-based entertainment like YouTube on the go will evolve and continue to be popular.  I also expect that sites that monetize video footage (of, say, news events) that users take on their mobile phones will become increasingly popular….Think sites like: ScoopLive.com, Scoopt.com, and SpyMedia.com.”  So far, I’ve been right on YouTube, but monetization from video is still a long way off.  Check out the lack of traffic on the above sites according to Alexa!:

Given the current economic downturn in the US, I don’t suspect we’ll see much movement in the paid-for citizen journalism space until 2009.  And, by that point, there will probably be a whole new set of competitors.  More likely,  I suspect we’ll see Video AdSense from Google (just released from beta) and similar video ad platforms make their way towards mobile and start picking up momentum towards the end of the year and into 2009 as mobile advertising revs up.

With an increased amount of mobile content becoming available and more ISVs and websites trying to monetize their mobile efforts through advertising, the discoverability of mobile content needs to improve.  So, I’m sticking with my original prediction from 2007 that later in 2008, mobile search and mobile SEO will gain momentum.  Mobile ads will gain some momentum later this year but won’t likely take off until 2009.  By that point, there will be a need to track the effectiveness of mobile ads, and by 2009, I suspect we’ll see an increase number of mobile analytics vendors like Bango and Mobilytics emerge.  From there, it’s only a matter of time before the heavy hitters in website optimization and testing incorporate mobile website testing and optimization tools into their product suites.

It’s an exciting time to be in both mobile and web 2.0, and 2008 and 2009 will be exciting years for both industries as convergence moves further away from a dream and towards a reality.

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