Facebook & Nokia In Discussions

  • First they buy Navteq for $8.1 billion
  • Then they buy Enpocket

Now there are reports that Facebook and Nokia are in talks to port the world’s 2nd largest social network to Nokia handsets, making Facebook as “prominent as the Youtube placement on the iPhone” , says David Kaplan of MoCoNews…

I for one have watched in fascination as more and more of my social network installs the Blackberry Facebok Application.

What will be interesting to watch – is if/how Nokia integrates it’s mobile ad serving with Navteq’s LBS services with Facebook’s targeting abilities. Add a little bit of privacy issues and we’ve got another beacon controversy brewing before our very eyes.

Matt Ingram’s Post on Dunbar Numbers & Twitter

Matt Ingram has a great post on Twitter and the Dunbar Theory. To quote his blog:

“This reminds me of the “Dunbar number” — a theory that Robin Dunbar came up with, to describe what he thought was the maximum number of people that one could interact with on any kind of personal level. Dunbar figured the average was around 150. Some have claimed that they can boost that number online, and there’s no question that it’s easier to keep up a kind of intermittent attention flow with more people.”

I couldn’t help be reminded of my discussions with Chase McMichael, CEO of Unbound Technologies in California. At a time where most agencies were completely clueless on how to measure the impact of their social networking buys on say, MySpace, Chase was a rational voice explaining (slowly) that number of friends doesnt equal number of influencers and that at some point, you lose the ability to dialog with your audience when it reaches a certain threshold. I still believe Chase is ahead of the curve in ability to dissect a social network.

Is Joost Juiced?

“Sorry Craig, we ran out of inventory. Why not try us again in August.”

That’s what I was told by the Joost sales executive last year when I was seeking out new opportunities for my clients while at PHD. We had met with the Joost team a few times, and I genuinely enjoyed the time we spent together – their product was different, though at no point at the time had we ever seen a live demonstration of their product. In fact, they had trouble securing beta accounts for my team.

When Brian from Joost informed me of the news – that we missed the boat on the very first sponsorship opportunities of the Joost platform, I had to admit – I wasn’t too upset.

My clients on the other hand weren’t too enthused with the news. I think the reaction was something along the lines of, “First Second Life…and now Joost?!” The “innovation” in my title was slowly fading, I could feel it…

And who could blame them? This could’ve been the social event of the century. Yep, for a time, Joost was the only thing talked about in our respective offices, even eclipsing the Second Life hype. Joost was like the Miley Cirus of video platforms. Everyone wanted an invitation to their beta and talked up how the Joost platform could revolutionize not just the online but offline world of video.

Hey I wasn’t really complaining much. Their hype coincided with a presentation I gave on narrowcasting.

As the news trickled in that their beta program was filling up faster than a Dodge Durango during a $2.25 gas sale, there was a brief twinge of regret. Had we made the right choice? Taking a deep breath, I braced myself for hearing about how we missed the boat, missed first movers advantage, etc.

Pardon my shock when I received a note a month ago from Brian Danzis informing me of his decision to move on. Brian is a great sales executive – someone I respect in the industry. It’s never easy trying to sell something new into agencies and Brian did a great job – first at Massive, then making the jump to Joost. Given that the initial beta sponsorships sold out quickly, his departure took me by surprise. I mean this is a company that received $45 Million in VC, they should be well incubated. Right?

I would argue that the two things you don’t want to lose in company leadership are technology and sales. Technology, so you can continue to evolve and advance your product. Sales so you can continue to bring in the revenue to fund your advancements and appease your investors. The two are symbiotic and I’ve been on the end of both of those spectrum where one goes awry leaving the other to fend for itself, typically not for very long.

No sooner did I receive news that Brian left, it was announced that the CTO of Joost parted ways. First it was reported his departure was amicable, and then he was fired.

So what happened?

Ultimately the platform failed to convince consumers to download it. In fact in diving into the controversy surrounding Joost, I was glad to see that Mathew Ingram shared the same sentiments in his post on the subject.

Joost had some interesting features. The ability to embed widgets, the in-program chat functionality, were fine and good but ultimately nothing they created was imperative to have.

Back to my clients while at PHD – like Second Life, I did not dismiss Joost as vaporware. What I suggested was that we as an agency, wait to see where uniques level out. Wait out the first wave of hype and let the audience stabilize.

Unfortunately things don’t look too bright for Joost. Per Mathew, he noted this commenter on the NewTeeVee post linked above — who claims to be an insider at Joost — claiming that things are not going well: “The mood is very bad inside the company, money is running out fast, the cash burn is of course way way too high, and so there is a lot of nervousness. Honestly, I think they are dead.”

Joost is still adding content, such as the Star-Trek catalog. But is it too little too late? For a company that seemed to be in the press every day at the beginning of 2007, they’ve been awfully quiet in 2008…almost too quiet.

Mobile + Merchandising Inches Closer To Mainstream

By no means am I going to share my thoughts with you and fully convince you that your phone is converging with your wallet. However, the more companies like Moosejaw embrace the mobile phone as a commerce platform, the more accepted a mainstream practice mobile commerce will become.

Ironically every day consumers use mobile phones to purchase goods. The caveat being that the bulk of those purchases never leave the mobile device itself. Restrictions by U.S. carriers forbid purveyors of premium SMS services to offer items non-digital items for sale. That means no premium SMS pizza purchases, or vending machines, or your wife’s next pair of Marc Jacob’s shoes.

Paypal has created work arounds, offering secure WAP m-commerce solutions, but the process is cumbersome and real world retailers won’t recognize the services in-store.

Consumers continue to blur the lines of technology and commerce. In fact I’m willing to predict that cash goes digital within our lifetimes. That’s right, we’re talking no need for paper or coin – just an infrared reader of some sort.

In the interim, we need to evangelize these new platforms for transactional purposes.

Great Tool For Twitter Fanatics

(Tom Was Really Excited About The Giants Winning Tonight!)

For those that obsessively update Twitter, yet aren’t married to using your mobile phone to do so, I’d recommend Snitter.

Snitter uses Adobe Air to build a nice GUI reminiscent of your favorite instant messengers. Sitting on your desktop tray, Snitter gives you instant access to your Tweets. I’m hooked and suggest you check it out!