Thursday, June 12, 2008

$2.5 Trillion attributable to Mobile Social Networking?

There's a new forecast for Mobile Social Networking to beat all the previous ones.

iSuppli Corporation, a market research firm, has done a study of Mobile Social Networking and forecasts the impact of this trend in 2020. There's almost no information available on the study except a short article which appears here.

The problem, of course, is in how one defines the market and where one draws the line of impact. In this case, iSuppli seems (in the last paragraph of the article) to include the sales of semiconductors for mobile devices supporting social networking in their forecast.

In the Informa forecast of the Mobile Social Networking market, I did not even include revenues from "bulk" data traffic services generated by Mobile Social Networking. This was because I feel that one cannot directly attribute data plan choices to only one service. It's more likely that people choose their data plans for a bundle of services they think they will need, even though social media and networks may feature very highly in the bundle.

In the forecast, I do include the impact of communications services (such as voice and video calls) initiated from social networking applications and all types of messaging revenues which are linked to those services.

I will be working on the model in the next few weeks and plan to have the 2020 scenario as an exercise during the IIR Mobile Social Networking pre-conference workshop.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Virtual Communities need a "home"

Since last fall when I was deep into the research for the Informa report, I detected a need for a safe place, a forum, where the virtual communities' challenges could (at least) be flagged and examined more closely.

In February, at the MWC, I stopped by the W3C booth and met Dominique Hazael-Massieux, the Mobile Web Initiative Activity Lead. In March, and for the past week, Dominique and I have be hatching a proposal. The W3C has the appropriate structure for this work to begin and continue, but it lacks the appropriate staff to drive the initiative.

A proposal is now being reviewed by over 20 mobile community operators and Network Equipment Providers, some of whom have a lot invested in the virtual community space, to solicit their sponsorship for this W3C fellow post. The post would need to be created, but there is no point in creating something for which there is no financial support.

I look forward to seeing how this is received at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting next week.

Mobile Social Networking and UGC Summit in July

The process of educating the market about mobile communities is only beginning. Even those of us who spend every day and night working on this topic need to hear how others see and experience the market. There remain many companies who are interested in learning more but have not really invested in a good report!

An alternative to a market research report is a delegate seat at a summit such as that which will be held July 2-4 2008 in Amsterdam. I love the city of Amsterdam and welcome the opportunity to be going back there. In addition to excellent location, the opportunity to collaborate with the conference organizer in the development of the agenda was valuable to me.

Mobile Social Networking and UGC: From Foundations to Advanced Strategic Planning is the title of the pre-conference workshop which I am conducting. As the title suggests, I will layout out the foundations as I see them and will take this through to the future and how to plan for it. I'm particularly excited about the afternoon which I'm planning to focus on the model of the industry. I am going to invite some financial and industry analysts to that session and really get serious with some What If scenarios.

Summit speakers include some of the most outspoken independent community operators (Gofresh, Flirtomatic) and several mobile operators. I anticipate that IIR will be able to bring in a good group of operators.

Today I'm going to issue an invitation to some of my lists to register early for the Summit and Workshop.

How quickly?

Yes, once again, it's about how quickly time passes...

The question I've been asking the companies with whom I've had telephone briefings this week is how fast their services are evolving: much their services have changed, in terms of features, since December 2007 when the tables were presumably correct.

I'm selectively sending out the individual profiles Informa published in the Companion Volume to see if there is a need to prepare an update. An update of the Companion Volume would also include approximately 30 more (new) profiles of services which were either (a) available in 2007 but I did not have sufficient contact with to prepare a profile, or (b) new services that have been introduced/released since January 1, 2008. A new Companion Volume will definitely be necessary in 2008 but I am not sure when. I hope to have feedback on this by later this month. I don't have a good handle from other people who publish material of this type on the frequency of releases. In the future, of course, the entire resource would be available on a web site which could be updated any time.

Time has also permitted me to invest more cycles into the Mobile Social Networking model which I prepared with Gareth Sims for the report. The model is getting a few minor repairs. I'm also increasing the annotations and instructions. Finally, I'm beginning to work out how to develop the bottom up estimates for the AIGPU (Average Income Generated Per User) in different community segments. These will be in pretty good shape by the time of the IIR Workshop.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Signs of progress-mobile communities in the spotlight

It's been far too long (again) since my last post but I'm prepared to resume. It has been a very hectic three weeks. The most important event during the interval was the final hard copy and electronic publication of the report (January 30).

The second milestone was meeting with over 45 companies in Barcelona Feb 11-14 and generally taking the pulse of the industry over those four days. The topic of mobile applications in general (and mobile communities in particular) was more important in 2008 than in past years. There were several important announcements made (by Microsoft, Nokia, Yahoo! and dozens of small companies) and a new category of "global award" was born (the Best Mobile Social Networking Service was awarded to myGamma).

Press coverage of mobile social networking has been good. The report, in particular, will be mentioned in an article in the Washington Post about mobile communities later this week and there was one a few weeks ago published by Reuters and syndicated to dozens of newspapers around the world : there are dozens of smaller articles in local/regional publications every day!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Full Steam Ahead

I've been so busy working on my first objective for January (below), on the other responsibilities (AMI COI Workshop) and Mobile Augmented Reality opportunities that I haven't had a minute to capture what's happening.

Travel also interrupts ones rhythm. I was gone to Holland on business January 17-21. While in Amsterdam I had some great meetings with people about all three lines of business. Was interesting to watch Sam jotting down notes of my segmentations and suggested metrics. It convinced me that I need to get busy building the presentation about the report's findings.

During the past two weeks I've also had the opportunity to really study and argue the model used in the report at a deeper level. This was thanks to an Informa analyst who may need to defend the revenue forecast. While the struggle on what, precisely, the revenue forecasts would be pulled a dark gray cloud over my mood, and delayed the completion of the edits by about a week, it was an important exercise.

We attempted to "rationalize" the size by estimating what portion of the total revenues would be available to mobile network operators. I venture that more than 80% of it is available in the near term because the services are largely paid for by users and the mobile operators have a stranglehold on the community operators, but as we move out into the forecast period, the portion paid by corporates will grow. I developed a User Pays Portion analysis and added it to the model.

The frustrating aspect of this exercise is that it highlights how much the corporates might (or might not) pay to support mobile social networking. The mobile advertising forecasts do not specify how much of future mobile ad spend might be towards mobile communities, but the general assumption is that brands will not be all that eager to support communities. To be seen.

There are other ways for corporates to provide financial support for mobile communities and content in those communities. For example, sponsorships and contributions to causes.

After many e-mail exchanges, the compromise position was to lower the 2012 total revenue forecasts nearly 20%. I am sure that the published forecasts will still raise a lot of eyebrows and skeptics will doubt but the real objective I have is to work through the model with as many people as possible/as time permits.

The forecasts were finalized Jan 22 (night) and the edits to the chapter took several days (57 figures!). In the process an error was caught (whew!) and corrected.

Once the forecasts were put to bed the remainder of this week was spent completing the edits to other chapters, developing the marketing materials (brochure and press release) and seeking quotes. I've also sent a special discount code to the 75 people who were interviewed for the report.

Now it's full steam ahead!

Monday, January 14, 2008


I'm hearing that several companies like Facebook, Google, Plaxo and LinkedIn have joined the DataPortability Association. The group's mission statement: To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end Data Portability. To promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community.

I think that this is one of the excellent industry initiatives but it isn't clear (to me, even after reading a few posts on the group's forum on Google) how mobile community platforms providers are involved.

Can the mobile communities tap the same architecture?
Has anyone in the mobile community joined or seriously examined the DataPortability group's proposal?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

To Dos for 2008

I like reading what others recommend we do. I think advice is a great thing to receive and to give, but one should also use caution because what you get is usually worth what you pay for it.

On the web this month there are thousands of bloggers telling one another what to do! I'm not quite ready to be one of those in what concerns mobile social networking (partly because I put all my advice in the 270 page report!), however, I am ready to consider the advice of some, for example, a marketing expert like Valeria Maltoni.

In this post on January 11, she has five recommendations for marketing and bloggers. Hope to do at least one or two myself! She's targeting the on-line community primarily, so mobile blogging is one of her suggestions for 2008. She's also recommending that people use their webcams to blog with video. Why not combine the two? it's more than twice the challenge!

For me, this blog and its sister pages were on the list. The to do 2008 list would be far too long if it were for the whole year so I'm only focusing on January. The remaining items on the professional to do list for January 2008 (in this line of business) were/are:
  1. get the report out (edited, produced and marketed properly)
  2. update the PEREY web site ( before the marketing of the report kicks in (and then maintain the site)
  3. learn how to use my N95
  4. figure out the to do list for February

Exchanging content for quotes

I'm in the process of soliciting quotes for the Mobile Social Networking report, and to have it be featured on various blogs.

It's challenging to figure out (and it's probably a similar one to that which faces anyone soliciting the feedback of others) how much to provide and how much of your information or opinions to hold back.

Obviously before an expert can pronounce on the value of a resource such as a market research report or a book, some of it must be examined and digested. The parts of interest to one expert might not be the same as for another expert.

There's also the matter of persuading a reviewer that I know what I'm writing and speaking about! They don't know me, have probably not heard of me before, my web site is terribly out of date and they haven't begun to read the blog. I was rather careful not to pick the brains of other consultants or analysts when I was forming my own thinking/foundations in 2007 so how will others be able to form an opinion? Only on the basis of the parts which I provide.

Another real drawback I have when soliciting these quotes is that only a few people are as deeply familiar with this domain as I am. That's good news and bad news. I think one of my responsibilities is to keep educating others.

Yesterday I met for two hours with Rolf who works in an investment/emerging technologies group of a local telco. My goal was to obtain a quote from a telco about the value of the report but it is not clear if he will be an approved spokesperson and he is not in the mobile side of the social networking business. Rolf is interesting because he is building up a team to launch a platform for social networking which he believes will be open source. I should introduce him to another person who is advocating open source for mobile.

Rolf is first targeting large telcos who want to operate on-line (Web) communities as a way to rebuild the relationship they have with their subscribers/customers (he says that telcos now only have a billing relationship with subscribers) then, when he reaches critical mass, he plans to pay attention to mobile. Besides this (focus on telcos who want to operate their own web communities but don't want to build their own platform) his language, although he has nice slides, is still vague.

He's going to conduct a workshop in about 10 days to receive internal input (but he admits that there's likely to be fewer people who understand what he's trying to do inside the telco than outside), then perhaps we'll explore a collaboration. I've offered to provide opinions/feedback on his business plan, based on my research on mobile opportunities to date. I'm not holding high hopes of getting what I need (quote from a telco for the press release).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The world keeps spinning!

The editors are processing the chapters of the Mobile Social Networking report as fast as they can but the world continues to turn. With each passing day, those working in this field need this resource more and more!

Not only do I hope to contribute to the dialog about mobile communities, I'm also in a hurry because I am very eager to receive the criticism and feedback on what I have proposed. I hope to make continuous improvements in my materials and segmentations, and to have the opportunity to speak in public venues and at industry events in the next few months.

Speaking of public speaking and mobile social networking, on January 6 Bill Gates took the stage at CES for the last time. Near the end of his talk, when he was talking about the future, he showed and spoke about a device on which Microsoft is working for Mobile community participants and those who capture mobile social media. The new Microsoft handset will combine live video capture with location recognition and 3D mapping. Although it has not yet been named, Gates anticipates these features to be integrated into Windows Mobile devices. The "intelligent agent" will provide the user details on locations, people and other objects it views through a built-in video camera! This is a perfect cross over between the Mobile Social Networking market and the Mobile Augmented Reality which is emerging is my other focal point for 2008.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

the Mobile Social Networking industry forecast

I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to discuss the Mobile Social Networking industry model and forecasts with some experts this week. I've got a meeting set up with Jason at AdMob who has written about his company's "scientific" approach to estimating the number of community members or community registrations, I'm not sure which.

In the Informa Mobile Social Networking industry forecast, we first estimate the number of people, actual unique people, who are participating in the industry by signing up for and contributing to communities. Then we estimate how those people participate. This is the really fun part. People can be joiners, collectors, critics and creators. I explain what each of those terms mean in the report. Then, they can join one or more community and play different roles, depending on the community. We estimated the number of communities people were in according to the region and the types of communities.

Finally, we segment the market according to the complexity of the community platform, in other words the number of features it has to offer.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The companion volume

The profiles of 30 mobile social networking services were sent to the editor tonight. These will become the companion volume to the Mobile Social Networking strategic report.

I'm really excited about these because I believe they capture the state of the art in the segment as of December 31, 2007. Each profile has a description of the service, a table with about 15-20 features (yes, no, some explanations where and when available), a mention of the size of the community in terms of registered users, the geographic coverage, the business model(s), the lessons learned and analysis of the services Future Prospects. The analyses were pretty varied though there are some that share the same technology challenges or business challenges/recommendations. Makes sense since the services are in similar positions (direct competitors).

A lot of those who I spoke with when I was doing the background research for the main report said (when I asked them what they most needed or wanted to read) that they would highly value a resource that compiled information about the available services in an easy to scan, yet detailed fashion. I hope this is going to meet that need. It involved a lot of work on my part.

Now that all the parts of both the main "book" (I estimate it will be approximately 300 pages in length with about 100 figures, 57 of them just in the forecast chapter) and the companion volume (approximately 100 pages) are in the hands of the publisher, I'm beginning to work on the next phase of the marketing (the first phase was just having this page: ).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

For the New Year, a New Community

For most of 2007, the momentum has been building up around the completion of a new market research report about Mobile Social Networking. It began when I connected briefly with Nick Lane in Barcelona in February and culminates today with the final pages of the companion product, a survey of 30 of the world's mobile social networks.

One of the very rewarding aspects of this project has been connecting with nearly 100 people, a community, which is all focused on mobile communities. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be right here as the new year begins and the action continues.

With this inaugural post, I am beginning a new resource for myself and those with whom I hope will be sharing their thoughts, suggestions, recommendations and opinions with me.