Thursday, 8 November 2007

Facebook for BlackBerry, the problem is...

None of my friends have it.

So I'm ready to interact whenever and use Facebook to communicate with my friends about friends stuff while I'm out and about, they have to be sitting down. And not just sitting down, but sitting down in a place or time that is Facebook friendly.

With organisations increasingly blocking access to sites like Facebook or restricting access to lunchtimes, etc, I wonder if my prediction of Facebook participating in a new paradigm in communication is really going to be realised.

While the service is delivered as a web site it's easily blocked by corporate IT. A mobile device interface allows people to interact when they're not sitting down.

On the way to and from work I would say is the time when most friends would want/need to communicate, reviewing the day, last night's TV or planning the night ahead. They could access the Facebook mobile site but the problem with that is the synchronous nature of the interaction.

Navigating a mobile web site requires a consistent data connection, not always possible on the commute. The beauty of the device based applications is that they can work asynchronously, masking network availability fluctuations from the user.

They can also provide a responsive and functional user experience, another area where mobile web apps suffer, flying on PC browser style interactions with servers that we designed with a reliable data connection in mind.

So we need, Symbian, Java, BREW and I guess Android versions of these applications. Someone like Facebook, with a lump of Microsoft's cash, probably have the resources to do it and to drive this forward but is that really going to really going to be the answer?

From a purely technical point of view, it comes back to opening up the OS on phones and standardising the APIs, something that Google's Open Mobile Alliance is purtaining to be about. The problem is that some rather large companies stand to have the business models that made them what they are today destroyed if this happens, so it probably won't.

While innovation and adoption happens at light-speed on the Internet, in mobile it can't while these interests remain protected.

I'm not naive enough to beat a drum and say this must change irrespective of the outcome. These companies employee huge numbers of people and contribute greatly to economies all over the world.

So I guess we'll just have to see where the chinks in the armour open up. There are enough developers and entrepreneurs working in and watching the mobile space to work out how to make these things happen, me included, so when it does happen, you can bet it'll happen quickly.

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