@ CTIA: Social Networking While On The Go

Tricia Duryee
Thursday, September 11, 2008 6:00 PM

Keeping up to date on all of your social networks while on the PC is hard enough, but when you're using your phone, people must flip between browsers and applications, making the process even more difficult. At least two services at CTIA were announced that eliminate some of these headaches by aggregating social networks, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, on to one screen. The largest announcement was made by Yahoo ( NSDQ: YHOO), which unveiled oneConnect for the iPhone. The other announcement, which received less attention, was made by push e-mail company Visto. It's new service, Visto Mobile 6, will offer a push-enabled service that keeps people up to date on e-mail, social networking, SMS, IM and photo sharing. The big difference between the two is that Yahoo is distributing directly to consumers, whereas Visto sells through the carriers. Although both have a jumpstart on providing the service, copycats are inevitable since most of the sites the services connect to use open APIs.

-- Yahoo's oneConnect: After the keynote, Joe Hayashi, Yahoo oneConnect's senior director of product marketing, walked me through the new product. He said oneConnect was first announced earlier this year, but the iPhone is the first implementation. He said often times the address book is the starting point of the phone, but it's such a static experience that they are trying to create a more social address book. The centerpiece is a tab called Pulse, where it integrates Facebook, Twitter and other networks on to the same page. That's where you can see the latest status updates and photos uploaded and with one click you can get to that person's address card. On the address card, it lists how you know that person, through Facebook or MySpace, for example. Future releases will include location-based services. One of the coolest things, which is not necessarily useful, is that when you are viewing a text messaging sequence between yourself and other friends, you can rotate the iPhone horizontally, and automatically the messages are viewed with avatars and thought bubbles. The avatars can be designed to look like your friend.

-- Visto: Redwood City, Calif.-based Visto is most known for its push e-mail capabilities with most of its carrier customers being located in Europe. However, it made a move into social networking earlier this week when it announced its new product, which it calls it a "living address book." Practically, it combines social networks into one user interface. And, using its push technology, constantly syncs updates to the mobile phone, said Doug Brackbill, Visto's EVP and chief marketing officer, who I talked to last night. The service includes Yahoo!, AOL, Google Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and Photobucket, and sends out notifications of new pictures, posts, and other events from your favorite contacts. Brackbill said they will sell the service to carriers, who can offer it to their subscribers, but that believes making social networking this easy will increase overall usage. Release.

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