Mobile operators and platform developers have been urged to keep the user experience simple when building mobile social networks. The head of Bebo, Sean Kane, maintained that cheap, basic functions such as being able to send a text message to online friends from the handset were enough to empower users, rather than layering advanced features on top of the mobile social networking experience.
Bebo, which had racked up more than 40 million users prior to being acquired by AOL earlier this year for US$850 million, admits its mobile interface looks unexciting compared to the fixed-line alternative. However, Kane confirmed the 16-24 age bracket was the target, a group less likely to be able to afford smartphones capable of supporting sophisticated user interfaces.
Kane was also critical of the number of mobile platforms currently on the market, but registered his enthusiasm for Google's forthcoming open mobile operating system Android as an example of the way forward.
In Europe, the company has recently run several campaigns with music vendors in an attempt to convince this age group to move away from using free music download services such as limewire.
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