Last Thursday there was another Mobile Internet SIG event organized by SD Forum. This month’s topic was Social Networking & Mobile Phone Services.
The first presentation was held by Steve Granek from NeuStar, Inc. Not only is Steve a great speaker, but he’s also very knowledgeable in what he was talking about: problems with multi-service providing for carriers and network operators. It comes down to the fact that mobile phones (and networks) have originally been created to provide voice service, not data services such as SMS, MMS or web access. The biggest issues with this is address routing and interoperability. We heard in-depth facts about how routing a regular phone call is different from getting the route to someone who is supposed to receive a text message (that’s the address part). Interoperability is a big issue, because carriers tend to approach widespread problems with their own focus only, so e.g. IMS was mentioned as a great thing with the exact same problem.
One very interesting, even though a bit frightening sentence in Steve’s presentation was that convergence is happening (mobile+web) in the US right now and that it will be running the carriers over like a bus…there’s an image.
The second presentation came from John Kesler, CEO of Fonherd. Fonherd, a startup based in Los Angeles, is “a mobile social networking platform utilizing permission-based mobile phone directories to provide content, commerce and communication to existing and emergent communities” (quoted from http://www.sdforum.com). They are going to launch their service in about four weeks in the UK, and after that in the United States. The whole thing is mostly SMS based and they are planning to make money from the commerce part of the application. That is via coupons someone gets via SMS when he/she joins the herd of a company giving them out. It reminded me a little bit of zyb, also a social network that is based on directories of numbers, in the case of zyb however, these numbers are synced from the phone to the web (that’s how it all started).