Not-So-Mobile Social Media
Here’s a little secret from me to you regarding mobile social media and networking: if it is too frustrating or time consuming for people to access social content from handheld devices, they will simply stop trying.
I’m a Blackberry user. You might even say that I am a Crackberry addict. I won’t say it, because that means I have admitted that I have a problem, and experts tell me such admittance must preclude a recovery of some sort. But for better or worse, you might say my life revolves around the shiny little Blackberry Curve Sunset that never escapes my person.
I have the Facebook application for Blackberry. I can update my status, post photographs, and send messages to friends. You’d think that I’d also be able to receive notifications of messages, comments and wall posts made by my friends to me. In theory, that should work…but in execution, it doesn’t. I don’t know whether T-Mobile, RIM or Facebook is to blame, but I know this: they probably aren’t suffering like I am. After all, nobody likes a tease, and having a Facebook icon situated fashionably on my menu is really only torturous when it never talks to me.
Twitter is also a favorite social tool of mine, and one of the few Twitter clients developed for Blackberry is Twitterberry. I also installed that client, and within a few hours, uninstalled it along with Facebook. Blackberrys are handy in that their indicator lights flash red when a new update, message or call has been received. Unfortunately, Twitterberry won’t alert you to updates. In fact, not only won’t it blink red for updates, it caused my Blackberry to flash red when I had no messages. I found myself checking my Blackberry every 15 seconds in hopes that I was not being deceived by the flashy red light, which was both time-consuming and irritating.
My much-belabored point is this: the entire reason social media and networks were modified for mobile devices was so users could enjoy the convenience of accessing their content abroad. If you remove the convenience factor and insert frustration, well…you certainly haven’t moved ahead, have you? I consider my social networks to be a source of enjoyment; I don’t need more complication or frustration, thank you very much.
Of course, there really isn’t any one entity to point a finger at; data networks still aren’t really where they should be for proper enjoyment of mobile social content, nor are handsets (I’m sorry Apple, Google, et al, but sometimes the truth stings).
A large problem is that carriers don’t feel the need to vastly improve their networks so that they can handle proper mobile social content because, aside from monthly data plans, there isn’t a penny in it for the networks. Believe me, providers are itching for ways to hook users into paying for mobile social platforms, but it hasn’t quite caught on yet. Unfortunately, the free social platforms can’t move forward in design until carriers start providing data networks and handsets capable of seamlessly integrating those platforms that don’t pay dividends. The closest thing might be Apple’s iPhone on the AT&T network, and I certainly don’t think it is correct to say they’ve nailed it.
For now, there isn’t much to do besides wait. That, and make it very clear to providers by way of social networks, platforms and blogs that robbing people blind for mediocre services and devices won’t stand. Say what you like, but I’m not willing to pay exorbitant prices for lackluster data service when I can’t access those things that make having the internet in my pocket worth my time or money.