Mobile browser plugins: The browser as a platform la facebook platforms ..

Note: I changed the subject because the blog is emphasising Mobile browser plugins – which was not obvious from the previous heading

I have talked about browser plugins before in context of offline browsing. However, the concept of plugins could be an interesting idea in itself – independent of its use in offline browsing.

If browser plugins take off , then the browser becomes a platform much like the facebook platform. The analogy is not accurate of course since browser extensions are software extensions whereas facebook applications are extensions of the platform itself – which includes the software and the data i.e. people

Having said that, the idea of extending a browser could have some interesting implications – especially taking the idea of open source into the equation

If we take the vibrancy (and the irritability!) of facebook applications and extend that to browser extensions, then the act of extending browsers via plugins can have both positive and negative implications – for instance ..

a) People can create their own extensions – ideally very easily. Much like facebook apps

b) These extensions should installable at any time and by anyone(i.e. not determined at POS)

c) It should be possible to tell others what plugins you are already running(i.e. capability exchange much like what we see at WURFL)

d) Irritating applications should be removable(much like some facebook apps!)

e) It should be possible to ‘send’ extensions to others(again like facebook apps)

f) There should be a minimum set or configuration to start off with

g) The whole ecosystem should be open sourced – so that it takes off faster.

h) The plug-in interface should be defined separating the interface from the implementation

i) Testing and certification should also be decentralised i.e. not controlled as a revenue model – else things wont take off fast because developers wont have any incentive to work with it commercially

I am aware that as I mentioned in my previous blog, the missing link is access to device APIs from the browser – and by extension the security implications of the same i.e. merely having the ability to add these plugins on mobile browsers may have limited usage if the plug-in itself can do little .. But it’s a good start? No?

If facebook is not ashamed of calling itself a utility, why are other networks and mobile network operators ashamed of being a ‘pipe’?


If facebook is not ashamed of calling itself a utility, why are other networks and mobile network operators ashamed of being a ‘pipe’? ?

Will they continue to extol the virtues of their closed models as they ride into the sunset?

Let’s start with a few general stats about facebook from Dan Farber’s blog

General Growth

• More than 24 million active users

• More than 100,000 new registrations per day since Jan. 2007

• An average of 3 percent weekly growth since Jan. 2007

• Active users have doubled since Facebook expanded registration in Sept. 2006

User Demographics

• Over 47,000 regional, work-related, collegiate, and high school networks

• More than half of Facebook users are outside of college

• The fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older

• Maintain 85 percent market share of 4-year U.S. universities

User Engagement

• Sixth-most trafficked site in the United States*

• More than 40 billion page views per month in May 2007

• More than half of active users return daily

• People spend an average of 20 minutes on the site daily*


• No. 1 photo sharing application on the web*

• Photo application draws more than twice as much traffic as the next three sites combined*

• More than 1.8 billion photos on the site

• More than 6 million active user groups on the site

International Growth

• Canada has the most users outside of the United States, with more than 2.5 million active users

• The U.K. is the third largest country with more than 1.4 million active users

• Remaining Top 10 countries in order of active users (outside of the U.S., Canada and UK): Norway, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, Sweden and India

Also from the same blog ..

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls this latest iteration of the service a “social utility,” which is an apt term. It’s a utility in terms of a tool for the 24 million Facebook users, but it also reflects Facebook’s desire to become a utility, like a power company, in which potentially billions of people use the service in their personal and professional lives. Facebook, MySpace, and other growing colonies of linked communities with semi-permeable walls represent the rise of the social Web and Web utility companies.

Zuckerberg describes the Facebook core function that the new third-party applications can tap into as a “social graph,” the network of connections and relationships between people on the service.

Read that last bit again ..

Facebook’s desire to become a utility, like a power company, in which potentially billions of people use the service in their personal and professional lives.

Sounds like a pipe to me .. i.e. a utility ..

Talking to many Mobile Operators and many other social networks like Ryze, Myspace, Ecademy etc etc .. that’s the LAST thing they want to be ! i.e. a utility ..

In that sense .. its ironic is it not that this ‘pipe/utility’ is valued at $10 billion or more - while valuations of most Mobile network operators and other closed networks continue to languish ..

There is a lesson here ..

And it has to do with the network effects i.e. the market is paying for existing rate of growth, future rates of growth and competitive advantages .. (look at the scramble for survival from linkedin and others to emulate FB )

This is not new .. in fact .. it’s as old as the Internet itself .. i.e. any network that can emulate the open ethos of the Internet .. can grow at a phenomenal rate ..

I talked about this in a blog called Salt Pepper and Social networking ..

As I said in the Salt, Pepper and social networking ..


And what is the ethos of the Internet? It’s something I have been advocating to Mobile network operators for years now .. You can summarise it by the phrase: ‘Dumb pipes and Smart nodes’

The network (Internet) itself is ‘dumb’. Its only job is to ‘connect people’. The value is provided by the nodes (the people / systems that are at the ends of the pipe). Jonathan Schwartz summarises these ideas in the Power of the end nodes (AKA: ‘the network is the computer’). I believe that the same phenomenon applies to social networks on the Internet. The moment you introduce tiered membership, complex pricing models and so on, you hamper connectivity. The effective size of the network decreases because all members can’t do all things.


So closed network, telecoms networks as they are today, social networks which have a fee structure .. win the battle .. i.e. make some money .. but lose the war .. i.e. have low valuations due to poor growth rates.

In fact, with the rate of growth of open networks – they may well lose the battle to survive ..

The battle for being a ‘pipe or not utility vs. non utility’ is sooo Web 1.0 – most people don’t realise that in a world of connectivity there is no unpipe!

And there in lies the success of facebook i.e. simply in connecting people and let intelligence shift to the edge of the network(think facebook applications)!

Sadly, many will never get it – and will continue to extol the virtues of their closed models as they ride into the sunset ..

Image source: noopportunitywasted

Illegitimate name is legitimate name on facebook but Patrick Lord is not :) – Mobile Monday Barcelona

I thought I was the only person who had tough time with my second name :)

Spare a thought for ‘Patrick Lord’ CMO of mobiluck

Patrick and I spoke at Mobile Monday Barcelona last night and he told me this amusing story ..

It concerns Facebook, of which I am a fan ..

When Patrick tried to register on facebook with his real name ‘Patrick Lord’ , facebook thinks ‘Patrick Lord’ is NOT a real name.

Of course that IS his name!

So, in desperation he registered under the name ‘Illegitimate Name’ i.e. first name = ‘Illegitimate’ second name = ‘Name’

Voila that was accepted by facebook!

So don’t be surprised if you get ‘poked’ by ‘Illegitimate Name’. That’s Patrick!

Joking apart .. It was nice to speak at Mobile Monday Barcelona – run by the uber mobile blogger Rudy De Waele .

This is vibrant momo chapter – and it was great to meet Rudy for the first time(inspite of a number of conversations, we had never met before)

Apart from me, Patrick Lord CMO of mobiluck (aka facebook – ‘illegitimate name’!) and Lucia Garate Mutiloa R and D specialist – Group R and D at Vodafone were the speakers.

Lucia did a great job of presenting Vodafone betavine. Of course I have blogged about betavine before since both Dan and Stephan Wolak are involved with it

Lucia mentioned that Betavine has released their APIs – so don’t forget to have a look HERE

The interesting things for me in mobiluck’s presentation were

a) Use of anonymous voice chat(for dating)

b) The uptake of their Bluetooth service in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East

c) Use of cell ID to get location(hence free and cross operator)

You always meet many interesting start-ups at a momo event – and I shall be blogging about some I met yesterday. But one interesting company I met(and it’s not a tech company) is Manfatta. They manage online reputations – i.e. track what people are saying about a brand and try to manage that brand’s reputation online. I always knew this existed but never met anyone who did this for a living!

The rise and rise of facebook ..

Is it just me .. or is the world going facebook? At least here in the UK, I see a big uptake of facebook – and it seems to be across the board. I am well networked in a new media/telecos/web/mobile circles .. so maybe I am seeing this as an early adopter here in the UK. Luke Razzel also well networked in the same circles called it ‘a stampede’ .. So it’s not just me!

Any one else have a similar observation?