Posts By Triston

Twitter made the right choice to turn down Facebook

Micro-messaging phenom Twitter recently turned down social networking giant Facebook’s offer of a buyout of $500 million, and there are those that are questioning the judgement of the Twitter team, especially in light of the economic wasteland.  But even considering startup’s blatant lack of any revenue model, Twitter made the right decision.

Obama and his Blackberry: parting isn’t a sweet sorrow at all

But it could be a necessary sorrow. Leslie recently wrote a piece on Tech.Blorge.com suggesting that Obama, an avid user of his hip-holstered Blackberry, might have to give it the boot once he is sworn into office.

Could Becoming Social-Media Savvy Really Help the GOP?

A recent article on CNN.com, written by journalist Leslie Sanchez, suggested that Obama”s success in garnering an impressive following of young voters demonstrated that for the GOP to succeed, the party will need to match Team Obama”s savvy use of social media in future elections.  Though John McCain”s team certainly didn”t match the efforts of Obama”s in social media, there is a much more significant reason why McCain and the GOP as a whole won”t succeed in winning over the young vote, which runs to the very core of the party.

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.

T-Mobile’s G1: not quite Ponies and Rainbows

Of course, now that I said that, some bored software junky will design the “Ponies and Rainbows” app for the G1 just to spite me.  I won’t be too heartbroken.

Probably everything you’ve heard about Google, T-Mobile and HTC’s new superchild, the G1 handset, is that it is the phone that will revolutionize the handset industry, take open software to a new level, and most significantly, crush the iPhone betwixt its powerful jaws (or something to that effect).  I won’t refute that completely, but there are some points I feel the mainstream media is leaving out when it comes to T-Mo’s new flagship device.

Standardizing Mobile Websites Equals Happiness In My Pocket

There are days when I wake up to the same blase stream of information filling my feed reader, and then there are days when I am genuinely excited about what’s flowing through the web of tubes known as the internet.  Yesterday was one of the latter category.  

You see, along with the many various hobbies I entertain, I’m a self-proclaimed gadget geek.  Full blown.  I read somewhere that my Myers-Briggs personality analysis explains my need to have a new shiny gadget in my pocket at frequent intervals; thank you, whoever managed to connect psychology to my gadget addiction.  I now effectively have a doctor’s note to wave around at loved ones who wonder why I can’t stick with a cell phone for more than a year (at most) at a time.  

With that said, I’ve been somewhat disenchanted with mobile web browsing until just recently.  The iPhone was the very first device that actually made me want to use the internet on the go.  I don’t have an iPhone, though.  All the folks who browse the internet on Palms, Blackberrys, HTC devices or any other smart phones probably can relate when I say that mobile browsing can be a bear.

That isn’t necessarily the fault of the handset or operating system manufacturers.  The biggest problem is that there really aren’t really any rules or established guidelines for websites to follow when it comes to designing mobile-friendly pages.  Text can appear all jumbled up, you have to scroll every which way like you’re playing a game of Snake to navigate —  no rules usually translates as anarchy.  

I said a quiet prayer of gratitude yesterday when I read that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) finally laid out its first set of guidelines for creating mobile websites.  Anthony Ha of Venture Beat writes, “The consortium, commonly known as the W3C, is the primary international body that develops standards for the web, and now it’s turning its attention to the mobile world. The idea is to have a set of guidelines that developers can follow so that their sites can be viewed without difficulty on any device.”  If that doesn’t excite the pocket warriors amongst you, I don’t know what will!

With standardization of rules that demand mobile websites be accessible by any web-friendly mobile phone, more consumers will get on board with mobile browsing.  As more consumers become connected on the go, there will finally be the boom of users necessary for mobile social networking to really take off.  The scope and potential is huge!  With browsers being packed into every purse and pocket, we’ll see a huge boost in dependence on mobile social communities, and you can bet your britches it will change the way we think about mobile social networks and the devices we choose.

If, at this point, you still haven’t quite grasped how exciting this is (at least for me in my gadget-driven geek frenzy), I suppose you could imagine me doing an Irish jig in my office.  That’s not something I necessarily recommend.  

Mobile Social Media Makes it Big in ’09

Though I’ve said almost incessantly that social media will, in the very near future, start migrating as a whole to mobile devices, it is always nice to see a little evidence to back that theory up.  iSuppli, an analyst group focused on interpreting trends in electronics, claims that the massive adoption of smartphones and internet-friendly handsets in 2009 will force businesses to radically revamp their business models to address the new mobile social phenomenon.  With many social business startups gaining support in the mobile platform arena, iSuppli estimates that the scope of this shift to mobile social media could surpass the current impact of the technology, media and telecommunication industries, which currently control approximately 5% of the gross global domestic product (estimated at $3 trillion dollars). 

Information Week claims that the adoption of smartphones like the iPhone is the catalyst for the market’s shift towards mobile-based social platforms.  I agree with that opinion whole-heartedly, but there are a few very large roadblocks standing in the way of widespread adoption of social mobile platforms.

First, many consumers just aren’t ready to spend money on data transfer plans with mobile carriers because either the handsets that properly execute internet are too pricy, or the plan rates are outrageously priced.  The U.S. carrier market is preying on consumers; while other countries have high-speed networks and advanced handsets available at competitive rates, the U.S. market is exploiting customers while the getting is good.  For the U.S. market to truly adopt mobile social media, plans and handset prices will need to become truly competitive — what a novel concept!

Second, handsets will need to be powerful enough to operate mobile social platforms full-time without putting a huge strain on battery life, system performance or any other aspect of mobile communication.  Apple isn’t allowing mobile social platforms to run constantly in the background on the iPhone for fear of system slowdown and drained battery life.  Though that is a legitimate concern, by not allowing social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to run as background processes, the iPhone (which is the most popular touchscreen handset on the market) is stunting the growth of mobile social media.  If the industry is truly going in the direction iSuppli predicts, Apple and other manufacturers will have to bulk up their handsets to compensate for the shift towards proper mobile social networking.  

iSuppli also estimates that the cost of basic mobile social packages will be an average of $15.30 monthly.  I have to say that I disagree with this analysis, and here’s why:  the entire point of social networking is to share and communicate with friends, family and new people.  Sharing, by definition, implies no cost.  Do you think social networking and media would have become so successful if there were monthly price tags on every platform?  That obviously won’t stop carriers from attempting to tag social packages with price tags.  However, you can bet that people will choose to pay standard data rates and use free social platforms instead of opting into any carrier-exclusive for-pay mobile platform.  If carriers can’t see that simple fact now, they’re wasting time by building or purchasing mobile social platforms they intend to charge users for.  

It is likely that, like many other things in the mobile world, the U.S. will be stuck quite a few large steps behind other markets, simply because carriers aren’t willing to sacrifice a few pennies in the name of progress.  Though other markets might see a drastic shift towards mobile social networking by next year, our nickel-and-diming U.S. carriers probably won’t have any problem shooting up the party here.  

Why Limit Yourself to a Computer?

Often times, we think that being socially connected means fingers on a full keyboard, seated at a chair, staring into a display.  That assumes, of course, we’re talking about socially connected in the internet sense.  The fact of the matter is that being socially connected doesn’t mean you’re locked into a chair at home.  You can very easily mix your in-person social life with your web social presence at the movies, the pub, your favorite restaurant, or the ball park.

Of course, you’re now curious what I’m referring to.  Social media is starting to find a home on mobile devices so you don’t have to stress about staying connected at your home machine 24/7.  If you’re the kind of person who loves taking pictures with a mobile phone, many mobile social networks will allow you to upload photos to an entire mobile social community dedicated to sharing different media content.  If staying connected to a plethora of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and others is more your flavor, there are quite a few newly-emerging platforms that aggregate all of your most important social activity right on your cell phone.

That, friends, means freedom — freedom from the confines of your home office, freedom to live your life as you want and still stay in contact with your social communities.  With smartphones, touchscreen handsets and very affordable standard handsets being compatible with these mobile social platforms, answer me this:  why are you still sitting at your computer toiling over each and every update your friends send you on all your different platforms when you could be out?  Instead of answering me, go out and go mobile!

Facebook Junkies Make Great Employees

Just the other day, I was out and about in College Park, MD and was introduced to a young college-going woman at a local pub.  For some reason or another, she was keenly interested in what I do, and after explaining as best I could, she said, “So you”re like an expert on Facebook?”

After letting out a slightly frustrated sigh, I tried to explain further the concept of social media, especially how it has more broad implications than wasting time on yet another pointless Facebook game.  I knew I would need to end our conversation and begin a discussion with someone else when she said, “Well I”m a Facebook expert — I”m on it for hours a day.  If you ever want help, come talk to me.”  I forgot to ask for her card.

Sadly, this young woman, who is on the verge of graduating college, isn”t too far from the norm of college students in online casino regards to their ideas of the internet and social media.  I can”t even imagine what would have happened if I”d suggested in the very near future, she might be able to take online courses to complete her master”s degree on Facebook — she might have imploded.

Truth be told, most college goers don”t have the foggiest idea about what the latest and greatest trends in internet media are.  When I say “Viddler,” they ask, “Like Youtube?”  When I say “Twitter,” they ask, “Like AIM?”  These are the very same college graduates now looking for your jobs.

With that said, you will be, for better or worse, employing at least some of America”s best and brightest college graduates.  The fact of the matter is the group I just described bring something different to the table, something that  you”ll thank your lucky stars you have represented on your team.

Just because they aren”t up-to-date on the latest and greatest does not mean they aren”t capable of being so.  We”re talking about a group that loves the cutting edge; you have an instrument that just needs a little tuning.  All you”ll need is the tools to tune them properly.