Stuart Henshall has some interesting thoughts on how Skype and Vonage, more than Friendster and LinkedIn, will be the drivers:
Many of the social networking services provide useful functionalities (dating – matching is really separate to my comments here) however none of them provide the type of product / service that is going to be a big time winner. They are high maintenance for the most part and fail to integrate well into the day to day work that we do. Then there is trust too. Upload your outlook address book etc… They are all useful experiments and many of their features will be built into corporate systems. Yet, I believe the majority are barking up the wrong tree.
Here’s some top of mind reasons why.
Mobility: These systems are static, don’t integrate well with our cellphones and our SMS or what is to come in this arena. PDA’s with Pocket Presence etc.
Presence: A few like Tribe provide some indication of presence. However have you ever been there where there are more than one or two people that you know online at the same time? Ecademy provides another method. None of these enable quick voice brokering. Although there is an Ecademy group that has experimented with that. IM already does this.
Voice: More than half of all knowledge is communicated verbally. These systems aren’t adding in the additional cues. (If you want to see a great piece on this read Tom Coates). Skype uses both presence and Voice Quality to really change the game and the location — integrated with the PC.
Conferencing Calling: 2004 will see the introduction of effective VoIP voice conferencing at effectively zero cost. This will have significant impact on knowledge sharing, networking. and getting to the right questions quickly.
Buddy Lists: IM is accelerating. IM is displacing e-mail. IM redefines addresses, personas, and access. Expect to see some RSS in with IM. Buddies want to sell a car… just blog it. All your buddies see it. Buddy broadcast. It’s already done with SMS messaging.
Blogs: Is TypePad not in the Ryze social networking business? From what I’ve seen everyone there can have a profile / about me section in minutes. Feedster provides another example of networking around content. Just search the blogs for “social software”.
Search: I think we are going to want to capture the searches that personally network us with people we want to connect with or who are also investigating an area. I’m also surprised that Google doesn’t make it easy to link a search that returns a link to a blog to an IM opportunity. Makes even more sense in large corporate databases. Would that make it a decentralized Ask Jeeves?
So where does that lead? Right bang on the doorstep of the phone system. It’s where all the money is, and where the above is likely to be most disruptive. Vonage’s new softphone like Skype is just another indicator.