On SOLOMO, Facebook & Mobile

What happened to Social Mobile Local? It seems that the mobile part of the so-called SOMOLO is the only thing that is taking off, but that has nothing to do with the other two component of this misapplied buzz word..  There is no doubt that social apps have been popular but aside from photo-based apps, nothing new has taken off in a big way, and certainly nothing significant  that integrates ‘local’  as an essential element of interaction. The biggest local play continues to be Yelp; Facebook usage is approaching a plateau, and the social commerce has yet to prove itself.  Mobile, on the hand is the all important trend but it was improperly combined with social/local:.  Mobile is the new platform, just like PCs were in the 80s and later Laptops, etc.  ‘Mobile’  is not a trend on which to build companies, or to invest in them, it is simply fact of life that any company has to consider, or else become obsolete.

Is Facebook in Trouble?  The usage stats suggest that it is.  More importantly, with the possible exception of Timeline, Facebook has not produced any major new innovation that benefits the users and gives them an enhanced value. Over the past two years, most of Facebooks’s initiatives have been focused on new monetization, increasing revenues, and on developers.  To be sure, Facebook continues to grow globally and is an essential daily platform for most users.  It has significant value for them, but that value is approaching a diminishing return , which could gradually cause decreased time spent, followed by decreased usage.  What can Facebook do? Not a lot, given that the platform is designed for “communitainment” (see my 2007 User Revolution report).  While the apps and games on Facebook are great and have their own value, It will be wrong to believe Facebook can significantly do more than those two things for us : provide entertainment and communication.

Mobile Advantage. I really like one hidden aspect of mobile platform that is benefiting the consumers:  because of the form factors and the app model, the platforms need to be highly focused on what the users  want, not what the platform wants to push to them.   Without exception, every app version of a website is more efficient and far easier to use than the website.  Mobile has other advantages, such as geo location, access, etc. that people often focus on, exclusively.  These are basic building blocks of our connectivity in the future and they won’t offer a differentiating advantage for long.  What is important is to realize that, as a company, you have to design your products for mobile devices. Period .  This means thay have t be simple, easy to use, clutter free, and focused on the consumer value proposition.  And, they must take advantage of what tablets offer beautifully: the visual and touch-based surfing, not desktop clicking.   In a matter of few years, the laptops and PCs will be simply the ‘alternative’ way to connect and use a platform or service.  So my advice: design your products for tablets, and make a “laptop/desktop” version of it, not the other way around.  That will give you the “mobile advantage”.

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