Martin Hoffman is with Moko, a mobile-only social network, not using mobile as an extension of the PC experience as Bebo and MySpace are doing. Social networks have their own metrics, looking beyond page views and looking at the length of user sessions. Moko boasts 72 minutes per user visit.
Mobile social networking really is about communication, and he pointed to the development of SMS. Last year, SMS generated $70bn of revenue worldwide. He said that SMS really took off when the networks interconnected, but the carriers still haven’t learned this with data and web services. Bebo has done a deal with Orange. MySpace has struck a deal with Vodafone. Mobile data is not as open as the internet. The handset manufacturers add another layer of complication. Nokia and LG might want different user experiences on their handsets.
Nokia bought a small social network called Twango. Imagine that Dell had spent $100m to buy a social networking. If you use a Dell, a Mac or any other PC, you don’t think about buying a computer to access a social networking site. The challenge for mobile is that you can have great services but can’t get access to users. And he said he didn’t even want to talk about data charges.
The mobile phone is the most profound platform out there he said. But it’s clear that carriers and handset manufacturers have not learned the value of openness.