In case you’ve been off-planet for the last year or two, Friendster is a social networking site that allows users to make new friends online and, just maybe, business connections. Though when it comes down to it, other sites probably do the business angle better, such as Ecademy, Linked In, or, as we have in Germany, OpenBC. A plethora of copycat sites have been launched, spawning the VC sneer of YAFRO Business Plans – Yet Another Friendster Rip Off.
Anyway, I suggested back in June that it should go into the mobile space and the people there obviously took some notice :-)
The disappointing element is that it’s just launching a stripped down version of the online site, with not really even a nod to the fact that we’re talking mobile, here. In fact, its rationale for going to The Philippines in the first place is that mobile culture is prevalent, in that many people don’t have PCs.
So, what they’re doing is allowing people who couldn’t normally access Friendster to use it – sending SMS alerts when someone asks to join your network, for instance. Or downloading abbreviated profiles on high-end phones. You also need a PC to create the account in the first place, though, so there seems to be some muddled thinking going on here.
I think that the big opportunity for social networking is where it meets location. It’s all very well having a pen pal in Wyoming or Japan. But wouldn’t it be great to network with people you might actually meet up with?
This also allows you to work around the inaccuracies of today’s version of location feeds. Knowing someone in your network or a friend of a friend is within a kilometer of your current location is cool. You don’t need to know their exact location down to the nearest 10 meters.
And who knows? If you charge a small amount for this information, you may even end up with that mythical beast – a social networking business model.