Mobile Devices Are Social Networks

Without a compelling existing brand or a really innovative product with protectable intellectual property (some of the games fall into this category), the only chance these apps have for long term success is to start thinking about ways to have users interact with each other in order to build network value. I’ve long argued that social networking on the iPhone is a huge opportunity, and the fact that the big guys are ignoring it for now leaves the door open for a newcomer to get long term market share.

(From Most iPhone Apps Are Failing To Leverage The Network Effect on Techcrunch)

What it means: great insight from Mike Arrington today. I’ve also been talking about the fact that your mobile device is a social object. It holds your contact list, it knows where you are and it’s a multi-channel communication device. We’re not far away from a specific mobile device-centered social network. Is there a “Facebook” in Apple’s future? I wonder if it would be possible to integrate DiSo (distributed social networking) with open source mobile operating systems like OpenMoko, Android or Symbian?

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Jonathan Zittrain: The Future of the Internet is Not Pretty

Just listened to a video presentation from Jonathan Zittrain at Web 2.0 Expo. Jonathan holds the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University and is a principal of the Oxford Internet Institute. He just wrote a book called “The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It

Zittrain suspects we’re getting close to the end of thirty years of “free” development around computers and the Internet. He sees the rise of “tethered appliances” like IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos as “the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners.” He also sees the rise of “platforms” (Google, Facebook, etc.) as centralized points that could potentially be disruptive to innovation. Finally, for him, things in the cloud (he gave Gmail as an example) are also a potential threat as users don’t control the information the way they use to when it was resident on their desktop.

What it means: I see those trends as well but I don’t think they’re new. It’s always been extremely profitable to build networks and closed systems. So, it’s not surprising to see a lot of companies going at it today. The second trend that Zittrain might be discounting is the rise of open source hardware. Organizations like BugLabs and OpenMoko are trying to crack that nut and keep hardware as open as possible.