Yesterday at the Mobile Web summit, it was great to hear Mark Curtis and his views on how they built up Flirtomatic. Mark is a good friend and also one of my authors. Mark mentioned something subtle .. Which I think many people(including me) had missed for some time ..
He said .. They started with Java for their Mobile social network, then just before their big launch they abandoned Java .. A costly decision but one he has never regretted it.
Instead they exclusively adopted the Mobile Web(XHTML and above) and have stuck with it ever since with great commercial success
Why should mobile social networks not be built in Java(or other downloadable platforms)?
They key to flirtomatic’s success is its extremely fast feature turnaround, adaptation to customer needs, introduction of new features, responses to customer needs etc.
For example –he mentioned ‘roses with glitter’ which they introduced immediately since people seemed to like them, A ‘ring’ for February 29(the only day on which women can propose to men it seems) etc. Many of these features arose from customer feedback and were implemented immediately
And why not implement in Java?
Because – changes to the service are not propagated immediately. It is a mess – and the user pays for the downloads(airtime) – apart from the time needed to test the service in the first place on a wide variety of handsets
With the Mobile Web, this is not a problem. They can change the service every hour and the changes are reflected immediately with no cost(and pain) to the users.
This is not a fluke ..
ALL the big social networks are based on the Mobile Web .. And none on Java .. which is counterintuitive since developers may want to design cool, sexy features and a great user interface – but they dont make business sense in light of the above
Java has never been to get to such numbers and with good reason as we see from Flirtomatic’s experience as above