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.