Today, the mobile phone operator has the data regarding whom I call and how often, whom I message and with frequency, where I am at any given moment of time, and so on. In other words, my personal and social profile resides in the collection of actions that I do with my mobile. In India, it is the mobile phone usage and not the email and Web usage which has a better potential of defining the all-important social graph. Imagine if this data were made available to developers to build the next-generation of social applications.
Of course, privacy norms will need to be respected – the mobile subscriber will have the control to decide which applications can use the data. This is somewhat like what Facebook has done.
Again, what the mobile operator is doing is converting itself into a platform and allowing other service providers to build on top. This is the approach which will pay dividends over time. Operators today have the critical mass (in terms of absolute numbers and reach) to make this happen. A new operator may just be the one to open up this space.