The Future of Mobile Internet

nokia-n97Exactly two years ago when I started working on a Community Portal, I felt Social Networking sites are like Night Clubs… people enjoy the novelty factor of these sites. The ubersexual users were engaged on any social networking site only till the time it had that newness & exclusivity. The moment a new networking site got launched, all followed it i.e. the most hip night club on the net.

Today in 2009, mobile communication has started changing this trend rapidly; no longer are newer social networking sites reaping the benefits at the expense of its predecessors. There is a steady increase in the traffic at the current sites.

Facebook being one of them is continuously gaining the users share and refuses to go down. And I believe the SN mobile application is a key driver to this. This application amalgamates location-based data with social networking—and that’s not all, it also provides marketers and advertisers like me with pinpointed targets.

With nearly 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, you would be assuming that I am a regular visitor to this site through the web. Actually, I am not. Instead, I prefer to use Facebook’s mobile application on my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and scroll through the news feeds, send messages, update my status and even sometimes upload photos taken on the go. What is fantastic about this application is that on mobile, as a consumer, I can see the ad- and clutter-free interface with no distractions what so ever.

I have read that, I am one of 25 million Facebook mobile users and one of the 4 million users who access this service on a daily basis. That’s a sizable portion of Facebook’s 150 million (and growing) registered users, with whom lies the Facebook’s future. With the rise of superphones from Nokia, Apple and BlackBerry, we are at the threshold of a new era in which the mobile and the wired web will converge. This content, when married to location-based services, will create a new real-time, highly contextual Internet experience.

Thinning line between Online and Offline

Well, till a couple of year’s back I believed that first experience of the Internet will be on the big screen. I think I’d like to change my stance today. We are transitioning to an increasingly mobile world and context & location will lead this change. As most users would find their context with the location pointed.

In this evolving new world, the browser-centric method of “search, find and consume” will soon become obsolete. These superphones, driven by location tagging and live Internet connections, would be able to display relevant data with a lot of serendipity.

Google has already started doing that with its new service Google Latitude. One hears from the market that they have already started marrying location-based services and local data using a map as an interface. One also hears that they have been going to each and every retailer and asking them to put their latitude on their cards.

Compare that to the Facebook’s mobile efforts, which could pivot around your real social graph. Your Social Network will be merged with your phones’ address book, just as Facebook integrates the mobile with the Web seamlessly to provide a mobile experience with a higher degree of social relevance. Somebody last year said, Facebook is about creating “Shallow Relationships” well now Facebook is mirroring the real-world relationships.

With your social network at your proverbial finger tips, forget making phone calls to plan an evening out. Facebook will help you to extend its vast array of applications to the mobile world to plan such activities relatively easy. Some of these applications will provide advertising and e-commerce opportunities as well.

There are other services which have started developing in the western world already. But for us, I guess, the biggest challenge that Facebook has to work on is to get millions of its members to sign up for its mobile version.

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