The Social, Mobile Web: An Entourage In Your Pocket

There’s been a series of announcements this last two weeks, many which are happening here at SXSW, yet it’s important to look at what these changes mean as a collective, here’s my take:

While working on my report the future of the social web, I was white boarding out ideas with Josh Bernoff on some of the changes that will be happening as social technologies become more important. It’s clear that as mobile devices become more prevalent, and social communities grow online that they’ll take main stage in our personal and business lives.

As I was explaining to him how I think they could be all pieced together, I said “your friends will be with you as you travel”, being an expert wordsmith he suggested it’s more akin to having an “entourage in your pocket”. The thought is that everyone will feel just a bit more secure and confident knowing they can instantly access their community.

One of the key changes is the access that we’ll have anytime and anywhere to our trusted network of friends, family, and colleagues –and not just asynchronously, but in real time. Here at SXSW, Facebook announced that it would tie to iPhone extending mobile application to be present wherever users are at. This impacts both retrieval of information from your network –and publishing to your network in real time.

What to expect when the mobile and social web combine:

Access to your trusted network anywhere
We know from data, that users trust peers more than any other group, and now, consumers have access to their most trusted network wherever they go. Take for example my colleague Nate Elliott who recently moved to Vancouver, using Tweetdeck he just asked what the best restaurants are in his area. Imagine consulting your peers (or perhaps their peers) in near real time for what they think of big ticket items like TVs or cars, or even more daily items like checking to see which one of your friends rated a restaurant in Yelp, or a product in Amazon before you buy it in the physical store.

Access to your trusted network anytime
As we’ve seen from Twitter, and now the recent Facebook redesign, the web appears to be moving more real time. We’re starting to see life streams and activity streams as more common design elements in mainstream websites even like Yahoo YOS, and Microsoft Live. We may even see uses of asking your peer network directly in Twitter in real time maybe tools like Tweetdeck that now connect Twitter and Facebook, granting the ability to shout out “has anyone had experience with this product? Love to hear your thoughts before I buy”

Growth of location specific applications
When you start to think of what this means for the next generation of apps, we will start to see location specific applications. Perhaps you’ve heard of mobile based social networks like Loopt, Whrrl, and Brightkite, yet these applications could provide further context to users as they maneuver the terrain. An example could be of an individual being a fan of a product in Facebook, like Starbucks, an iPhone can already track where you are on Google Maps, but now can find the nearest cafe to you. What’s the change? Now it can recommend product specials for you as you get closer, enticing users with their favorite beverages. Mix in social, and it may suggest for you to invite your nearby friends, which would result in a discount for both of you or other reward.

We’ve yet to fully explore what the real time, and location specific social web has to bring, the opportunities are nearly limitless. Love to hear from you what potential applications could be built.

13 Replies to “The Social, Mobile Web: An Entourage In Your Pocket”

  1. Taking it from your last sentence, it surely is a difficult era to predict the social web since so many new new stuff is taking off. How about realtime status apps sync’d with location based services would work like a charm IMHO!

    What’s your take on this one?


  2. It’s common sense like the above that makes me realize I have to embrace mobile technologies more and more…and also give my kids these tools as well to stay on the forefront of development.

    It will be interesting to see what’s common-place for them once they’re adults…..

  3. Jeremiah:

    Thanks, as always, for a great blog post.

    (First 3 short paragraphs in my comment here are for the furniture industry. Please skip straight to the paragraphs on mobile statistics if you are not in the furniture industry.)

    For your readers who may be interested in what the potential for mobile means for the furniture industry, I have just written two articles for two furniture industry trade publications-about how I believe mobile marketing can and will revolutionize the furniture industry.

    The longer article,( 2000 words) written for Furniture World magazine will publish at the end of this month and the other for the Western Home Furnishings Reporter (100 words)will publish, also, at the end of this month.

    I did EXTENSIVE research for these articles and here are a few of the statistics that stood out to me:

    As of May 2008, according to Nielsen Online, there were 264 million consumers US consumers with web enabled mobile phones, and over 40 million of those were accessing the web once a month using them. This represents huge growth potential. However, this is a tiny and insignificant speck in the world of mobile.

    Here are the stats that really amazed me:

    There are over 4.1 BILLION mobile phone consumers in the world today and 3.4 BILLION of them have web-enabled mobile phones with 3.1 BILLION using their mobile phones ONLY to access the web! There are 6.6 billion ppl, more or less, on our planet. (Compare this to 1.5 billion personal computers owned by all consumers).

    As I found out, the US is just a tiny speck on the mobile horizon compared with these other countries right now so the opportunities for the furniture industry and all others conducting international business seem to be just enormous- right now.

    And, by the way, I also found out that there are 47 MOBILE ONLY social networking platforms in the world as of last month and more being developed every day. And these are not small. When I looked at GREE and FLIRTOMATIC, I could not believe the numbers.

    Your post showcases a (and,I think, THE) HUGE marketing opportunity for the furniture industry and all others for the foreseeable future given that many are struggling to maximize ROI on their budgets given the maze of possibilities available to them and the state of the economy.

    Thank you for illuminating a clear path with your insightful post, Jeremiah! Have a great day!

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