Top Ten New Social Media Platforms

This is quite an interesting piece on some of the new social media platforms. One significant fact is how many of these are focussed on mobile social media, in my view the next big thing in, er mobile (and social media for that matter). Having said all of that, and looking at these sites and their tag lines, it begs the question, how many of these will still be here in a year’s time? My guess is not very many. Some of them are just too faddy, some of them will be copied by Facebook (Gowalla already is), and if they are very lucky some of them will be bought by Facebook, Google or someone similar.

Here are some of the taglines from the new social media platforms, and some of the taglines that they should be:

Gowalla
Tagline: “Keep up with your friends, share the places you go, and discover the extraordinary in the world around you.”
Should read: “At least we’re not Facebook.”

SCVNGR
Tagline: “Go places. Do challenges. Earn points!”
Should read: “Aren’t Foursquare doing something like this already?”

Whrrl
Tagline: “Check in, unlock Societies, unleash your Footstream.”
Should read: “We’ve been doing this way longer than Foursquare and Gowalla, what do those upstarts know about anything?”

Loopt
Tagline: “Go places, find friends, get stuff.”
Should read: “We help ad agencies to try and sell you stuff.”

Aardvark
Tagline: “Tap the knowledge of people in your network!”
Should read: “If you don’t have any real friends, but a lot of random Facebook contacts then this is the place for you.”

StatusNet
Tagline: “Bring the conversation to your domain.”
Should read: “We’re not Twitter, but wish we were.”

Flash vs HTML5: the war continues

Following Apples announcement that the WILL allow flash to be used for app development, Adobe put out a statement support Apple’s decision. Don’t expect an Apple/Adobe love-in just yet, but at least relations are improving. However it looks like Google and YouTube are not entirely convinced that HTML5 will be a replacement for Flash. YouTube has pretty much made Flash what it is, certainly when it comes to delivery. In the old days it was a battle between wmv, Quicktime and Real Player for delivering online video. They all had their problems and along came Flash with their flv’s. Fast, reliable and high quality. Even better (for the video producer) was that it was hard to download and store an flv on your computer.

Back in June, a YouTube engineer outlined the issues: in short, HTML5 just won’t play video as well as Flash. What’s more it breaks the current standards for video formats. So it looks like the age old VHS/Betamax debate all over again. My money is on the format that the porn industry adopts!

Apple (finally) publishes app store guidelines

Developers and app publishers have previously criticised Apple for it’s lack of guidelines in reviewing apps. Some commentators have suggested that the openess of Android’s Market may drive developers there in the future.

I’m sure Apple are not remotely threatened by Android apps (at the moment), but they have seen fit to publish their app review guidelines to developers (and it quickly found it’s way onto everywhere else on the internet). And it’s a pretty chatty and helpful document: “We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted,” is one example.

They have also relaxed the guidelines on which tools can be used to create apps – another bone of contention for many developers. They will allow any tools as long as it maintains the integrity of their security.

To some this may appear to be an insignificant move, but from a developer standpoint it is a major step forward.

Comparing app effectiveness

How well do different apps perform across different platforms: Facebook, iPhone or Android? Very conveniently, someone has compared these platforms (see diagram below) with some interesting results. Due to the sheer number of users, Facebook wins out on total apps, but looking at apps per user then the iPhone wins hands down. But that is hardly surprising. When it comes to mobile media, the iphone is very much about apps. With FB it is less about apps and more about basic communication or basic functionality that is already in the system.

What is also interesting are the type of apps in each top 10. For the iphone it’s all games. Facebook is mostly games, but includes some utilities, whereas Android is almost all utilities. This may simply be a matter of necessity. iphone users may be more than happy with their operating system and the only extras they need may be a bit of entertainment. Conversely, the Android users may simply have fewer games to download. But perhaps there is something more to it than that? Whilst the iphone has sold around 65m handsets, the figure of 120 million means that includes the ipod touch. That device is primarily about entertainment, so the fact that it is mostly games that are being downloaded makes sense. Similarly if you want games on your phone then the iphone is going to be the device of choice because of both the functionality and the range of apps available.

Google Wave: rising from the ashes?

Following Google’s announcement that Google Wave would shut down at the end of this year, they have changed tack slightly and now announced Wave In a Box. They have open sourced some of the code and the intention is to get developers to include the Google Wave features via an API. The orignal Google Wave was deemed a failure, as in spite of wide promotion, few people took up the product. This, however, is simply an indication of Google’s general problem entering into social media.

The problem is this: Google are basically a search company NOT a social media company. They do search brilliantly: web search, map search, image search, paid search. Even YouTube is fundamentally a search engine for video. In fact, their own Google Video never took off and it was the acquisition of an existing successful site that saw YouTube become the second largest search engine.

On the other hand, their entry into social media has largely been a failure: Google Wave, Google Buzz (does anyone actually use it?). I think that Latitude was a good concept, but it was immediately met with privacy concerns and never took off. I blogged at the time that Latitude had potential if they opened up an API for it. They have finally done that, but not before new upstarts like Foursquare and Gowalla claimed the location social media space. And they had APIs from the word go.

So, it doesn’t take a genius to see that Google are successful when they stick to search and unsuccessful when they try social media. And Google are a very bright bunch of people, so I’m sure they also know that. So why do they persevere? From Google’s perspective, why not? Afterall they make gazillions of dollars from their advertising so they can happily put out applications and projects to see if any of them take off. Not only that but Google empolyees are developing side projects all the time, so if someone’s got a good idea, why shouldn’t they put it out there?

All credit to Google for sticking with social media, but in the end it will be simply a niche against what they really do well. Search.

Ping: the power of recommendation

Of all the new announcements from Apple yesterday, the one that I find the most interesting is Ping. What Apple have done is typically, er, Apple! They have taken a good idea, namely personal recommendations, and integrated it seemlessly and beautifully into itunes. The bit that I find a little odd though is the focus on music in particular. Certainly music is something that people like to share, and Apple will create plenty of upsale opportunities with Ping. However, are they missing a trick by not including apps? A year after the launch of the App Store, Steve Jobs said he was surprised by the take up of the app store. Conversely itunes downloads from iphones were probably lower than Apple expected. So, if we’re looking at Ping in the mobile context perhaps the lesson here is to focus on the app side of the recommedations?

Personal Injury Claims Spam SMS

It’s probably an inevitable result of the recession, but it seems that many people have been receiving texts along the lines of:

FREE MSG: Our records indicate u maybe entitled to £5000 in compensation
for your recent Accident, To claim just reply with CLAIM to this msg, 2
stop txt STOP

The number of people who have told me that they received these messages is massive – I would go as far as saying that around half the people I know in the UK have had these spam SMSs. One journalist who was reporting on the issue received three of these messages in one week.

Given the largely adverse reaction, why would the companies concerned send them? The answer is, that just like spam SMS, some people respond to them. Firstly, the chances of someone having had an accident are quite high and secondly when everyone’s short of money people are looking for a way to get more of it. In fact an RBS study revealed that 11% of claims resulted from a text or email received by the claimant. Inevitably where there’s the opportunity of making money, then it is a magnet for scammers. Yet it seems to be more than just scammers, it would appear that legitimate firms are using SMS but not always complying with the regulations (and certainly not best practice). However, tracing firms who send unsolicited text messages is not easy. I spent a few months tracking down one company last year, and even using my insider knowledge on how SMS works, it took a lot of effort to find the culprit. I suspect that as a result of the difficulties, the number of complaints are relatively low, as most people can’t identify the people who are spamming them.

It would seem that the Ministry of Justice, who regulate accident claims companies, are looking to clamp down further on unsolicited marketing, including voice calling, email and SMS especially. In August 2009 the MoJ had already stopped 100 firms from trading due to abuses, and it looks like the body will clamp down further. This is good news, as from a mobile marketing point of view, this kind of SMS spam is very bad for business. If most people’s experience of ‘mobile marketing’ are these messages, then their trust in legitimate and permission based marketing will be much less.

Mobile Gambling: the next big thing?

In spite of the more highbrow commerce activities on mobile, as with the web (and many other technologies) some sectors always drive early adoption and take up. More specifically, certain areas of the entertainment business (as Tony Soprano would say) and gambling. The latter represents a significant amount of revenue spent online, and it would seem that the same pattern is occurring in mobile. Paddy Power, the bookies, have released figures which show that 10% of their bets come from mobile. Of that, 50% is represented by the iphone. Given that the app was only launched in June, it is a very fast take up. Paddy Power’s mobile revenue is double the figure of Ocado, whose with the highly successful app generates around 5% of their sales.

It’s easy to understand why mobile gambling is taking off. For starters there’s the immediacy, the amount of information required is relatively small and finally there’s the personal, private nature of the phone. Gambling is private by it’s very nature. Not everyone publicly acknowledges their gambling.

Like it or not, gambling has driven a lot of online commercial activity, and it looks like it will do the same with mobile.