O2: Social location does drive mobile web business
Published: 10 March, 2009
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Mobile operators and vendors, especially in Europe, are finding that the combination of social networking, mobility and location awareness - shorthand, 'social location' - is a magic wand in recessionary times. They are chasing the market with optimized handsets with clients for Facebook and other social nets pre-installed, and with platforms that integrate various social applications with each other and with mobile communications.
The strategy is starting to bear fruit, if O2 UK's experience is anything to go by. The UK arm of Telefonica claims it has seen a 60% increase in page views for the Bebo social network in just one month, since it joined the new Bebo Open Mobile initiative. And overall, AOL-owned Bebo has seen a 44% increase in page views of its cellphone offering since announcing the program, one of many that seek to deliver an integrated, cross-platform social experience.
AOL acquired Bebo for $850m last year and has bundled the app into its People Network platform, which includes AIM, ICQ, SocialThing, Yedda and Goowy Media. BEBO is trying to increase its impact by putting itself in the 'hub' position, enabling users to integrate all their social sites. Open Mobile is a global partnership program providing operators with a suite of tools to offer their customers easy access to social nets. With claimed access to 50m users, the main components of its initiative are the Open Mobile Messaging toolkit and Open Mobile Development API.
Another mobile social network provider, itsmy.com, says that a survey of UK and US users of such services found that 75% want a quick link to their operator's portal from their personal community site, strengthening the case for operator hosted, cross-app offerings from the likes of T-Mobile and Telefonica.