Social Networking Conference: Reno Marioni on Mobile Social Networking Trends

Social Networking Conference: Reno Marioni on Mobile Social NetworkingSocial Networking Conference: Reno Marioni on Mobile Social Networking shares some of Nokia’s insights into advances in mobile social networking.

Reno highlighted the growing mobile social networking phenomenon as well as some of Nokia’s innovation to enable it.

  • Reno’s been with Nokia, focusing on partnerships with LBS (location-based services) providers for almost two years. He’s steeped in the industry, having launched several startups. He’s a veteran of NeXT and knows Coco well. He vets, makes and managed partnerships with LBS vendors (usually a 70-30 split).
  • Implicit in his remarks was that it was somewhat eerie working for Nokia in the U.S., where most people have no idea of how massive the brand is globally. Nokia is the #5 brand in the world (and I’d bet it’s growing fast). The company sold 1.2 billion phones (last quarter or year, didn’t get that).
  • Mobile social networking combines mobile with social networking; imagine your favorite social network that travels with you everywhere and layers in LBS, which enables you to take advantage of everything geo: which friends are in the area and commercial offers (“did you know your friend bought this laptop at the shop in the next block last week and loves it?”).
  • Mobile will transform social networking, and Nokia aims to play a significant role. The centerpiece of its strategy is OVI, a “layer of services,” a”personal dashboard” in which users can share content and sync between phones and PCs. Although Reno didn’t say it, it sounded like a much more useful “deck” than can be offered currently, or a true “desktop” on the phone. (he didn’t say this either, but this will be very interesting as it will jangle the value chain, which desperately needs disruption, in the U.S. especially).
  • The context here is a natural evolution on the handset: telephone => email => SMS (text) => social networking. Social networking is a requirement for phone manufacturers.
  • Twitter has added the pervasive real-time status to the mix. Twitter has an older demographic than Facebook.
  • Nokia has a BRIC focus to power its growth.
  • Don’t make the mistake of considering “mobile” as (just) another channel. It’s far more active (because people are out and doing things).
  • Don’t miss that mobile phones are rapidly becoming content creators. People are wowed by the iPhone’s video creation, but Nokia has had several models that have done this (for a while).
  • Another way to look at the mobile value prop is phone-only, location and semantic location (I didn’t get all of this, but “location” probably means where the phone is, really. “Semantic” probably refers to the phone suggesting where you should be, based on your activity [since most of your communication is digital and going through your phone in some form, it has significant ‘insight’ into where you might want to be]).
  • Reno also discussed the value chain struggles. There’s a natural power struggle between “operators” (telecoms) and handset makers. (The details play out differently based on country).
  • One way to monetize social networks will be paying for link referrals.
  • Of course, Nokia recently acquired Chicago’s Navtech for $7 billion, the largest acquisition to date. Location is a huge part of Nokia’s strategy.
  • Two-way video conferencing is on some high end Nokia models today (obviously this is largely limited to 3G networks).
  • Nokia has launched an “app store” (like everyone else, Palm, Blackberry). He pointedly suggested that there was huge opportunity for developers to develop applications for the OVI platform: (paraphrasing) Would you like to be 1/200 at Apple’s App Store or #1 at Nokia’s store, which has a much larger global audience?”
  • In sum, Nokia is layering services on top of its hardware value proposition to consumers. It’s moving up the value chain. Hmmm.

SNC-logo-smThe Social Networking Conference took place June 24-26 in Beverly Hills. Between leading the pre-conference workshop on Enterprise Social Networking and leading the final panel, I scribbled these notes.

Enjoy and watch for the final report within a few days!

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