Meet emerging mobile social networks
Young mobile social networks on display include tools to phonecast, engage in location-based tagging, and win online contests.
New social networks are born each day, and at the Under the Radar conference (see all posts) a new batch is on display. Most are in early funding stages, and one is so new it's still in closed beta. The other three are ready for a try-out.
I'll give Frengo this--it's certainly different than most mobile chatting services. Case in point: Neither of Frengo's main competitors, Twitter and Jaiku, asks users to vote, compete in contests, or earn points. In that sense, a bit of the social-discovery element of social networks creeps in. Except, of course, the goal isn't necessarily to become friends with other users. Frengo is more interested in social collision--sort of a tamer, more innocent Hot or Not. Example? The Flirtable Facebook application launched last Thursday.
Strict microblogging is also out. On Frengo, users create or participate in channels covering a range of cultural content. This is definitely one service aimed squarely at the youth market, a market that's also traditionally had a more fluid disposable income to allocate for Frengo's premium services.
Kadoink grabs you right away, from its kinetic name to its multimedia communication services, to its CEO Steve Cahill's insistence that Kadoink is not a social network. The phonecasting and audioblogging functions are similar in scope to Utterz's voice "utters," where users text, blog, or upload the resulting MP3 to widgets on social-networking sites. Users can opt to be known by an anonymous handle.
At first glance, Socialight, a location-based mobile social network, doesn't dramatically differ from competitors Whrrl, Rummble, Loopt, or Dodgeball. (See our coverage for Loopt, and Whrrl and Rummble.)
Two things are different here. First, Socialight employs interactive sticky notes instead of thumbtacks or "R's" (Rummble.) These notes, less precise than thumbtacks, can be programmed to post on social network profiles and blogs. Second, users can organize those notes into a...notebook? No, silly, a channel. I could, for example, create a channel called "Jessica Eats" to track my text, photo, and video notes of recently frequented restaurants. Yummy. Or, I could subscribe to preexisting channels like Bravo's Project Runway channel, which lists spots around New York relevant to the TV show.
With such an enigmatic Web site, you really do need a presentation just to work out what TagText means by calling itself a "way for kids to creatively express themselves." It's actually pretty clear: TagText is an avatar messaging service. Users write a message, customize their avatar, and then push it via SMS, IM, or e-mail.