umbrella social networks and Google’s open social APIs ..

Interesting ..

In Beyond Web 2.0: The social web or the semantic web ? and the rise of the Umbrella social networks, I said ..

The idea is – we “log in’ to a single profile on our social network. The resultant social network then becomes an ‘umbrella’ network encompassing your Web, Mobile Web and even the Enterprise Web. The concept of umbrella social networks becomes even more powerful when presence is added to the mix.

This is a concern to many including Google. Many people no longer use email because email is replaced by facebook messages. If your entire web experience is replaced by facebook and the advertising for facebook is exclusively from Microsoft .. this is clearly a threat for Google(and a master move on behalf of Microsoft). So, already we are seeing some moves in this direction – and one can expect some response from Google to this.

and today Google announces an open social API ..

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks: 1) Profile Information (user data) 2) Friends Information (social graph) and 3) Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)” Says Om Malik: “OpenSocial attacks Facebook where it is the weakest (and the strongest): its quintessential closed nature…Even if you take Facebook out of the equation, the task of writing and adapting widgets for the every increasing number of social platforms was going to be turn into a colossal mess.”"

Fascinating development and good for the whole industry!

I was on BB2 newsnight last night – 3 Skypephone story ..

Hello

You can see the 3 Skypehone story on BBC as below

Go to

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/video/default.stm

Then click on ‘New Skype phone launched’

See my blog for my views on this

3 Skypephone and it’s impact on the Telecoms industry and walled gardens ..

Also see Paul Mason’s blog (BBC Newsnight) Paul Mason’s idle scrawl. Paul and his team at Newsnight were great in preparing me for this interview since it was the first time on TV for me.

We got along great and share many common interests

Paul did this great story on Africa From Matatu to the Masai via mobile which was one of my inspirations for the blog The Masai warrior with a mobile phone

So, it was indeed a pleasure to meet Paul in person especially considering my own interests in social transformation through Mobile phones and Africa

3 Skypephone and it’s impact on the Telecoms industry and walled gardens ..

3skypephone.JPG

I was invited to attend the launch of the 3 Skypephone in London today. This was a meeting organised by Kevin Russell, Chief Executive Officer, 3 UK, and Michael van Swaaij, acting CEO at Skype for the launch of the 3 Skypephone.

The launch has made headlines all over the UK on mainstream channels like Channel five, BBC and others. In fact, I am on newsnight tonight (BBC2 10:30 pm) for this announcement as well! (The first time for me)

This announcement is getting a lot of coverage for the ‘free’ implications. However, there is far more to it than free Skype calls.

Hence, in this blog I will cover the basics which are significant in themselves and are getting a lot of coverage. Then I will add some more analysis about the long term implications of this announcement to the industry as a whole and to walled gardens

First the basics .. And these have got a lot of press today ..

Skype and 3 have launched a new mass market handset that lets you make free Skype to Skype calls and send free Skype instant messages from your mobile phone to other Skype users. The 3 Skypephone is a fully-featured 3G Internet phone with Skype built-in(The phone has a prominent Skype button). In addition to Skype calls the phone makes conventional calls and can be used to access 3’s other internet services.

Note that, Skype calls existed on 3 before. The difference today is mass market phones and deep integration(the Skype button)

All of the above is great .. But lets look beyond the free calls as to why this is significant for 3, Skype and the industry as a whole.

a) The phone is all about communication. Anything that brings people together is good from a user standpoint. Hence, if we consider the phone primarily as a communication device, then access to Skype(one of the biggest communication mechanisms on the Internet) is a good thing from the customer standpoint.

b) The customer sees one communications platform – hence in the customer’s mind – the Internet and the Mobile Internet world should be seamless. Hence, no walled gardens – and leaning to an OpenGardens philosophy.

c) The Internet in general and Skype in particular are free. And ‘free’ is a word the Mobile Operators dread ..

d) So, the perennial question arises – what happens when these two worlds(with their different business models) are brought together?

Lets look at it from 3’s standpoint. Three introduced fixed rate pricing through X series which I then said was very disruptive in a cheekily titled headline: The future is bright .. the future is Three. Today, other operators have tried to copy similar price structures. This is good for the industry but fixed rate pricing alone is not enough. The services are needed as well.

Which services? Ones that have been successful on the Internet. And it does not get any bigger than Skype.

Hence, the first observation is .. The 3Skypephone should be looked at as an extension of the broader 3 Xeries pricing announcements last year.

So, yes while this is about fixed rate pricing .. But it is also about getting exposure to Skype’s 246 million registered users.

With 100% market penetration in most mature western markets, this is an untapped area of growth for Operators and therein lies the potential of this announcement.

The second observation pertains to the ‘unified address book’. I have long talked of the unified address book as the holy grail which Operators will aspire to get to (because without services like unified address book, initiatives like Fixed to mobile convergence(FMC) make little sense).

Now, if we ask ourselves – what is our most important address book? To most people it is their phone address book and increasingly their Skype address book . Thus, we can now merge the two address books or liberate the Skype address book from the confines of the PC. The access to a unified address book is a huge win for the customer; and hence for both Three and Skype.

Thirdly, because the service is simple and easy to use, I believe it no longer remains ‘geeky’ i.e. becomes much more mainstream

And Finally .. How will we react to presence on the phone for the first time? The youth are already used to this. So are many of us who are already Skype users. How will our behaviour change with presence? Will we call someone because we see them online? (instead of having an explicit reason to call)? or will we now start using the Skype voicemail feature more by adopting a form of asynchronous communication based on leaving each other messages on Skype?

Thus, I see this announcement as very significant but also an evolutionary announcement. 3 is learning to work with Skype. And it will continue to do so(Skype existed on Three already – so this is an enhancement of an existing relationship). Skypeout may be next for example – and this means Operators who follow will always play catch up.

All this will give Three a first mover advantage.

Skype also benefits by being ‘in the pocket’ and potentially being now the centre of communications – both fixed and mobile.

Finally, to really understand the vision of OpenGardens, the breakdown of the walled gardens etc – you have to understand the impact of Reed’s law, Moore’s law and Metcalfe’s law.

I have had long discussions with Professor Ed Candy, Technology Director of 3 on these three laws. I admire Ed’s views and in my view, Ed is one of the few people in the Telco space who has the vision to understand the true impact and revenue potential of the Internet.

A discussion of the three laws and their impact on the Telco space is a topic for another blog.

However, what we have to remember is: fixed rate pricing is only the beginning and not the end! In that sense, other operators can copy the fixed rate pricing model and be mistaken that they are being radical when they do so .. but many will cringe when they realise that fixed rate pricing was just the beginning. There is much more change to come.

And without understanding the impact of Reed’s law, Moore’s law and Metcalfe’s law (i.e. services exhibiting the network effect) .. adopting fixed rate pricing alone will only take them on the road to being a pipe.

In conclusion, if we accept that business models are going to change(and with the rise of the iPhone even the most conservative person cannot ignore the changing business models), then the entity who can navigate this disruption in advance and on it’s own terms(i.e. proactively rather than being forced to react to market changes), will be the winner. That’s why I believe that this development is disruptive.

I will blog more on Reeds Law, Moore’s law and Metcalfe’s law and their impact on the Telecoms industry.

Any comments welcome ..

Official web page and press release is HERE

Carnival of the mobilists: At Andreas Constantinou’s blog ..

Like many in the industry, I am an avid follower of Andreas Constantinou’s blog visionmobile. And hence, it’s no surprise that he comes up with an excellently edited carnival on his blog. Don’t miss carnival of the mobilists at Andreas Constantinou’s blog .. .

Many great links and insights.

My post Widget once run anywhere – Opera Widgets on new 3G handsets from KDDI makes it on Andreas’s list as well and Andreas captures the sentiment in :

Ajit makes a thought-provoking observation when he says “widgets are a much more likely driver of client side service convergence”; in other words if operators can ensure that the same widgets are available across handsets and terminals, they have a better chance of delivering service convergence and reducing churn.

And interestingly a second post about Opera also made it to the carnival(Dennis Bournique at WAP Review on how to keep your web surfing activity synchronized across all the browsers you use, on multiple desktops and mobile devices, even if they aren’t all running Opera browsers.).

It’s nice to see some of Opera’s good work on the convergence / integration space being recognised.

Thanks Andreas for this great post

I am very happy: Google page ranks OpenGardens blog .. 7/10

Hello all

I am very happy today ..

As many of you may know .. Google did a page rank change last week .. and now the OpenGardens blog is 7/10 ..

I am very happy about this .. and thanks a lot for your help and support. I will be doing a lot more with the OpenGardens blog – so stay tuned.

Thanks for your support again

Mark Knopfler’s new album – Kill To Get Crimson is fantastic ..

I heard Mark Knopfler’s new album – Kill To Get Crimson

last weekend and it is superb

I always thought – a simplified version of Dire Straits(Knopfler + Guitar + lyrics) would be great.

This album achieves that brilliantly with a folk theme.

It’s almost like Knopfler on MTV unplugged .. and that would be fantastic as well. I have always believed that only real talent can do well on MTV unplugged due to its back to the basics format

Great album .. very simple and that makes it so great

Here is the link to buy it or you can get it from iTunes

and here is a teaser of the album itself ..

(Many thanks to Dr Andrea Back for recommending this to me)

Two well respected bloggers in the social computing space cover the beyond Web 2.0 – umbrella social networks – cloud computing blog

Two well respected bloggers in the social computing space cover the beyond Web 2.0 – umbrella social networks – cloud computing blog

See Judy Breck’s views and Tom Mandel’s post. Thanks Judy and Tom!

Spinvox enables Voice-Driven Posts to Facebook, Jaiku and Twitter.

Spinvox enables bloggers to generate posts by speaking into a mobile handset. The voice is then converted to text and is posted on their social networking site

Interesting idea

Bill of rights for the social web ..

Bill of rights for the social web is a great idea considering my previous post Beyond Web 2.0: The social web or the semantic web ? and the rise of the Umbrella social networks and the idea of the social network being the first point of contact to what we currently call the Web, the Mobile Web and the Enterprise.

The fulfillment of an umbrella social network definately needs the social network to be an open network.

Thanks to Dr John Breslin for pointing this out to me

Re umbrella social networks .. from my last post ..

>>>

It can be summarised as ‘facebook(or similar) as your primary interface to the Web’.

The idea is – we “log in’ to a single profile on our social network. The resultant social network then becomes an ‘umbrella’ network encompassing your Web, Mobile Web and even the Enterprise Web. The concept of umbrella social networks becomes even more powerful when presence is added to the mix.

This is a concern to many including Google. Many people no longer use email because email is replaced by facebook messages. If your entire web experience is replaced by facebook and the advertising for facebook is exclusively from Microsoft .. this is clearly a threat for Google(and a master move on behalf of Microsoft). So, already we are seeing some moves in this direction – and one can expect some response from Google to this.

(Note: I can’t find the reference but JP Rangaswami had spoken of a similar idea – which I call ‘umbrella social networks’ – in one of his blogs. If I find the blog, I shall link it.)

To really work, this idea needs a fine grained privacy control and an open social network. But it is not so strange to think that our entire web experience may be driven from a facebook(or similar) profile. Facebook is already courting the enterprise

Also, in the article 15 reasons Facebook may be worth $15bn, here are some insights ..

7. Facebook is the new web: The decision to open up the network to outside developers turned Facebook into a destination for many uses, like messaging, photos and video. Of course, as Facebook is on the web it could never really be the new web.

11. Facebook messaging is the new e-mail. Everyone feels stressed from a deluge of e-mail from unwanted people and companies. But Facebook messages are always from friends.

12. Facebook’s “status updates” have become the easiest way to let friends know what you are doing and how you are feeling at any given moment.

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Yahoo opens up ..

Jerry Yang seems to be making some positive changes and going away from the old media centric approach of Yahoo .. This makes far more sense to me ..

Yahoo recasts site as “starting point,” plans Asia deal

Yang said Yahoo would focus on getting its 500 million monthly users to consider its email, search, mobile Internet site and main portal essential tools to which they return multiple times daily.