Forrester Report: Handset Makers Key To Mobile Social Media
Mobile phones and online social networks are natural allies, but social sites must still work closely with handset makers to ensure a user-friendly consumer experience, according to a new Forrester report.
That's because only the device manufacturers have the ability to tightly integrate mobile social features with a phone's core communication services including voice, SMS text messaging and an address book. The potential for social networks in partnering with phone makers is "enormous," according to Forrester.
"Mobile phones' convenience, improving cameras and location awareness will make the mobile phone the dominant media creation device of the future," states the report titled "How Mobile Handsets Will Deliver 24x7 Social Computing."
The study emphasizes that mobile is not simply a way for social networks to extend their Internet strategies, but offers unique features like GPS, touchscreens, video-recording and mexa-pixel cameras that don't factor in on the PC based-Web.
To capitalize on those features, handset makers and social networks have already begun teaming up to offer specialized social networking phones or features. London-based INQ Mobile has been at the forefront of such efforts, with its original S1 model providing Skype access and its followe-up INQ1, better known as the Facebook phone.
Earlier this month, INQ introduced a new pair of social media phones -- the INQ Chat 3G and INQ Mini 3G -- that add Twitter to the suite of social apps that include Facebook, Skype, IM and email, among others. Wireless carriers are trying to get in on mobile social networking too. AT&T last month announced a new mobile app via the MEdia Mall that offers aggregates Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
The report outlines five key mobile activities that social networks, phone makers and operators have to collaborate on, allowing people to easily upload content to the "cloud;" alerts, whether email or Twitter updates; quick-glance browsing; an all-in-one social address book; and full stand-alone apps for key services like email or Facebook.
Form should follow function, with features such as a large screen, full QWERTY keyboard, a camera with flash, and GPS to encourage social media on phones. At the same time, manufacturers shouldn't get too carried away with clever features.
"Device makers must avoid being seduced by the lure of creating sexy media-creation experiences alone," according to Forrester analyst Ian Fogg. "For mainstream device design, it's critical to make sure that consumption experiences are right first and then deliver on creation."