It's the year of social networks wrought with the mobile experience in mind. I spoke to five companies peddling their handheld experience as The Next Big Thing; here's how they stack up.
is the most advanced of the bunch, with a messaging service core and a profile, activity feed, and friend-of-a-friend discovery as other central activities. Messaging is easy. The single in-box shows status updates, all message types, and friend requests, and filters within this section highlight new messages and allow search.
You can post photos and 3G videos, but click-to-call is still under development. I dig the automatic spell check and basic grammar correction, but wish the messaging had a drop-down menu or predictive text to quickly choose from among friends. Unlike others, Bluepulse is purely mobile, operating on a slim and simple WAP site that never looks right from the desktop.
Based out of the U.K., Trutap has much more momentum abroad--in the U.S. the closed beta only works on AT&T and limits all-in-one IM to MSN, Yahoo, AIM, and ICQ services. Trutap is more a mobile facilitator than pure mobile social network in that photos and posts push to partner sites--Blogger, LiveJournal, Flickr, and so on. Trutap friends can also chat in-network.
Another service pushing mobile-generated content to the Web is Utterz, which puns mercilessly on its name. (The tagline is "Get Herd." Groan.) Images, video, and text are all included in the round-up, as are voice "utterz" you record by dialing a clearinghouse. Utterz can autopost to an impressive haul of services, including TypePad, WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook, along with some of the more usual suspects.
Matching voice Utterz with text and photos is another stand-out feature. Utterz nets disparate media sent within a 10-minute window and groups them together in a single post. Media can be surgically removed with some online account management, but tough luck if you try to do it from your device.
(review) are similar location-based social networks with dual use on the Web and phone (a WAP site for Rummble and an app for Whrrl.) Geotagging is the name of the game, with friends broadcasting their whereabouts and venue ratings within their network. Both have the usual text and photo uploading, profile management, and friend discovery features, but you can also connect friends in real life based on location-based alerts.