Dare Obasanjo writes:
Social software is any software that enables people to interact with one another. To me there are five broad classes of social software. There is software that enables
1. Communication (IM, Email, SMS, etc)
2. Experience Sharing (Blogs, Photo albums, shared link libraries such as del.icio.us)
3. Discovery of Old and New Contacts (Classmates.com, online personals such as Match.com, social networking sites such as Friendster, etc)
4. Relationship Management (Orkut, Friendster, etc)
5. Collaborative or Competitive Gaming (MMORPGs, online versions of traditional games such as Chess & Checkers, team-based or free-for-all First Person Shooters, etc)
Interacting with the aforementioned forms of software is the bulk of the computing experience for a large number of computer users especially the younger generation (teens and people in their early twenties). The major opportunity in this space is that no one has yet created a cohesive experience that ties together the five major classes of social software. Instead the space is currently fragmented. Google definitely realizes this opportunity and is aggressively pursuing entering these areas as is evidenced by their foray into GMail, Blogger, Orkut, Picasa, and most recently Google Groups 2. However Google has so far shown an inability to tie these together into a cohesive and thus “sticky” experience. On the other hand Yahoo! has been better at creating a more integrated experience and thus a better online one-stop-shop (aka portal) but has been cautious in venturing into the newer avenues in social software such as blogs or social networking. And then there’s MSN and AOL.
The interesting thing about the rise of social software is that this data lock-in is migrating from local machines to various servers on the World Wide Web. At first the battle for the dominant social software platform will seem like a battle amongst online portals. However this has an interesting side effect to popular operating systems platforms. If the bulk of a computer user’s computing experience is tied to the World Wide Web then the kind of computer or operating system the browser is running on tends to be irrelevant.