Mobestar Muses on Mobile Communities

The key to moving social networking and communities to the phone is by pushing communities that would already exist in real life, rather than trying to create a new Cyber Community and adapt it to the smaller screen and less navigable environment of the mobile phone. So says Mobestar, the mobile content and community company, commenting today on the explosion of social networking and community-focused applications on the web.
Mobestar believes that mobile communities present a major business opportunity to operators, brands and content providers alike, and identifies several key factors in replicating the success of online communities to the mobile phone including:
Relevance – the promotion of mobile communities must allow users to identify with the service it must be something people are already doing in real life (E.g., a nave user probably wouldnt seek their first communication with a brand or another person via the mobile phone, but an avid fan would be more likely to enjoy the immediacy of the service).

Real-life importance –  the content must serve a critical purpose to the users life, such as a mobile dating service which provides a clear end-goal of meeting a new partner.

Quality – the content might be great, but if the quality is poor, users will revolt.

Usability – with the challenges of a smaller screen and keys, the service must be designed to work effectively within the confines of a mobile environment.

Safety and security – the service must provide its users with the confidence that their details will be kept safe at all times and that they are in full control of the mobile community experience at all times.

The company points out that on the web, social networking and communities have become a massive phenomenon. In the United States the top 10 sites in popularity (including MySpace.com and Friendster) command a unique audience of 68.8 million users in April 2006, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
The situation in Europe is similar, says Mobestar, with industry body Informa indicating that community applications will generate the most revenues in mobile content by 2011, with communities replacing music as the killer app.Informa conducted a survey which predicted that community services will become the most important revenue generator for the mobile content industry five years from now, beating mobile TV as the biggest money maker.
Informa notes that the revenue-generating capability of communities is due to their far-reaching capacity and the fact they can be incorporated into virtually all mobile services. Another report, from analyst firm M:Metrics, said that in April, 10.1% of mobile phone users in England uploaded photos or videos to the Web from their mobile phones or used mobile chat or dating applications.
“Mobile communities offer an explosive arena, without a doubt” says Mobestar CEO Peter Richards. “Of all the applications to be delivered over the phone, mobile communities can bring a bigger purse. Operators arent making substantial profits from voice traffic any longer and the telecoms and media industries need to work together to ensure data services are excellent in quality, well-packaged and delivered in a thoughtful way. Operators and brands can ignite a passion in users if the right content is offered and people will readily pay for it.”

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