Ronnie05's Blog

How will Facebook become the most important company on internet?

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on September 7, 2009

An interesting article by Mike Elgan, Computerworld detailing his views about the opportunities that Facebook has in making a splash through its status as the biggest social networking portal. Compelling read.

Facebook could become the most important company on the Internet — more important even than you-know-whoogle.

How? By becoming indispensible to everybody as the ultimate mobile social networking service. Here’s what Facebook should do:

1. Add one-button friending: Facebook’s iPhone app, as well as other Facebook cell-phone apps, should feature a button that uses Bluetooth to scan the room for other people who have also activated their Facebook buttons. Once you and the other person have tapped your respective buttons, you’ll now be “Friends” on Facebook.

This single feature would replace business cards for business people, and the standard processes for casual connections among younger people.

It would leverage the user base to practically “force” non-users to sign up. Imagine a business meeting or a nightclub where everyone is connecting, and you’re sitting there like a schmuck muttering stuff like, “er, I don’t really use Facebook.”

2. Emphasize use of Facebook as an address book: Once everyone got into the habit of connecting with their cell phones, all data on friends, family and colleagues would be in Facebook, not Outlook, Gmail or dedicated contact software.

Facebook should then enable users to add any and all contacts, or to import them from other applications. That would make Facebook the preferred contact application.

The new iPhone app that shipped last month makes it super easy to tap the “Friends” icon, and get to what is essentially an address book. (The address book is one tab called “Info” and the other two tabs are: “Wall” and “Photos.”)

If I ran Facebook, I’d tell the UI team to default to Info, and put the phone number and e-mail address at the top. That would mean using the Facebook address book would be as easy as any other address book, with two benefits. First, the contact data is maintained by the owner of that data, not you, so it’s always up to date. Second, it comes with “Wall” data, so you can easily see what people are up to before you call or e-mail.

3. Improve messaging: Everybody has a love-hate relationship with e-mail. We love it because it’s so useful and universal. But we hate it because of spam.

Facebook is in a position to offer a superior alternative to e-mail, because people can only send messages to you if you’ve pre-approved them (by friending them).

Unfortunately, Facebook’s “Inbox” feature is slow and cumbersome to use. It should work more like e-mail and less like some kind of dumb message board. It should also let you send messages outbound over e-mail, and people should be able to send you messages from the outside only if they’re replying to your Facebook-originating message.

In other words, it would work exactly like e-mail, but people or companies that are not on your Facebook friends list would not be able to initiate messages to you. Good-bye spam! Hello forcing everyone to use Facebook!

4. Leverage location data: Nokia announced last week that some of its smartphones will be able to use a Nokia-developed application to push location data to Facebook as part of a status update.

First of all, this is just scratching the surface of how location data can enhance Facebook. Second, Facebook should be building this, not partners.

Facebook should be able to tell you when friends are nearby. This should be user controllable, so you can choose to be alerted to all friends, just some friends or no friends. The idea is that when you get within, say, a half-mile of someone you care about, your phone bleeps, and it says, “Joe Schmo is just around the corner!” Facebook should then offer options to chat, call, meet up or ignore.

5. Fix the internal spam problem: Give users the ability to auto-reject cause, group and other invitations. It’s just so much spam to most of us, and makes us long for an alternative to Facebook.

By letting people who don’t want to get this junk to turn it off, Facebook would suddenly become wonderful to use, rather than annoying.

Sure, there are a gazillion tweaks Facebook could make to improve the service for users. But to become massively powerful, Facebook should own the future of mobile social networking, improve messaging and get rid of the junk that makes Facebook annoying.

That’s where the money is, too, by the way. By doing the five items on my list, Facebook could replace Linked-in, Plaxo, DubMeNow, Gmail, and a host of other services. They could scan messages like Google does and present contextual ads. They could provide contextual ads based on location, even offering a restaurant or bar as a suggestion for where to meet nearby friends. And by implementing my plan, they would gain millions of new users, further boosting their power to attract big ad dollars.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Facebook will aggressively pursue any of this. Based on past performance, I think Facebook will squander the opportunity of the decade. They’ll muddle along as a popular social network, and let Google, Microsoft and others make off with the future of mobile social networking.

Too bad. Facebook could been a contender.


Nokia Money (Part 1): A new eco-system in making!

Posted in The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on September 7, 2009

Nokia is launching a mobile financial service next year targeting consumers, mainly in emerging markets, with a phone but no banking account. Consumers would thus be the Sec D junta, who use the mobile as a means to earn livelihoods but do-not have any social and financial security. There are 4 billion mobile phone users globally but only 1.6 billion bank accounts and 1 billion credit cards. There is pretty significant gap between people, especially in emerging markets, who have a mobile device yet don’t have a bank account. Nokia is truly looking at the C K Prahlad’s “bottom of the pyramid” in trying to put together this service. The strength in numbers/volumes outweighs the margin considerations. Nokia already has a tremendous equity as a device manufacturer in the Sec D segment. Services like Nokia Money and Life tools would make this strengthen this equity even further.

Nokia Money enables people to carry out daily money management with their mobile devices. The service has been designed to be simple and convenient as making a voice call or sending an SMS. It will enable consumers to send money to another person just by using the person’s mobile phone number, as well as to pay merchants for goods and services, pay their utility bills, or recharge their prepaid SIM cards (SIM top-up). The services can be accessed 24 hours a day from anywhere, meaning savings in travel costs and time. At the touch of a button a customer can manage their personal finances, check a balance, keep track of expenses and payments, pay for products or services, buy tickets for buses, trains and taxis as well as add credit to their mobile account. One can add cash through a Nokia agent. Nokia Money also enables remote workers to safely send money to their families and it can be used to pay off microloans. It provides instant money transfers in time-critical situations and saves travel time as well as reducing the risk of loss or theft.

NOkia Money

Nokia Money service is based on the mobile payment platform of Obopay, a privately-owned firm that Nokia invested in earlier this year, and it is now building up a network of agents. Obopay, uses text messaging and mobile internet access, charges users a fee to send money or to top up their accounts. Mobile money is one of the hottest topics in the wireless world, but so far take-up of services has been limited mostly to a few emerging markets, as in developed countries, the popularity of online banking has been a brake on mobile money. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a U.S.-based microfinance policy and research center, has said the market for mobile financial services to poor people in emerging markets will surge from nothing to $5 billion in 2012. Transactions on the device opens up an opportunity to empower people with access to secure financial service for the first time. With its presence and reach, Nokia is well positioned, especially in emerging markets, to bring electronic means of payment to hundreds of millions of individuals for the first time. Now payments would be made time and location independent, while also providing better financial control, especially for those people who have never had a bank account before.


The mobile service to poor people began in early 2007 with a launch of Safaricom’s M-PESA in Kenya, which has attracted 6.5 million customers, or one in six Kenyans. By the end of 2009, CGAP expects more than 120 mobile money implementations in developing markets.

Mary McDowell (Chief Development Officer, Nokia) said Nokia wanted to move beyond a system in which people were tied to a single operator or bank, noting that the Obopay works with both Nokia and non-Nokia handsets. She told Reuters it was too early to talk about revenue or profitability expectations, saying only that “the business model for us is to participate in the transaction stream as well.”

In the true Nokia spirit, Nokia is not opening up the offering to any other partner in the eco-system and going alone with its efforts to create a new Financial transactions eco-system. Nokia did not announce any partnerships with operators or financial institutions, only saying that Nokia Money would be rolled out gradually to selected markets starting in early 2010.

It would appear that Nokia is extremely positive on the pay offs from this service over a time horizon, which is why it has not de-risked the model by adding partners!


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