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July 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 7
Ask the Mobile VoIP Expert

Social Networking “untethered”

It’s time to cut the cord to social networks… and Mobile VoIP is the way to do just that! With engineers and business people in a frenzy about WiFi (News - Alert), WiMax and other technologies still looming somewhere in the future for mobile devices, Mobile VoIP systems that leverage our current cellular infrastructure have made the case for cutting the cord to a broad range of desk-bound applications. I believe that the “next big thing“ will be Mobile Social Networking.

While there are several mobile “Social Messengers”, I suspect that Twitter is leading the way for how people will actually interact. Google (News - Alert)’s Android mobile O/S has certainly gained the attention of developers, as it centers in the “Geo-location“ space associated with mobility and current handset technologies, and I suspect that wireless carriers’ “Walled Gardens“ will limit normal adoption and thus empower Mobile VoIP operators that can leverage software to bridge the gap created by limited-use mobile networks. Meanwhile, WiFi and Bluetooth discovery applications are fun but not very practical.

A few exciting applications, such as “Live Mobile Broadcasting“ and “Friend Discovery“, are already starting to find their way into handsets around the world. Some examples include Next2Friends and Reporo; I often see Jeff Pulver (News - Alert) streaming video from his world travels on PulverTV.

The commercial aspects of social networking are already well-known and widely used. We all find it easier to make a purchase when we receive a recommendation from a known friend or colleague — someone we trust. Facebook and MySpace (News - Alert) have experienced both the pros and cons of breaching such trust and today are making a quick comeback.

It is interesting to note that the increasing acceptance of OpenID ( may actually become the cornerstone of consumer confidence. While offenders like Yahoo have tried to “hijack” the emergence of this movement, it is the simplicity of allowing each consumer to control the persona and authority of services and their own content that will win out in the end. You will soon see a new Mobile Product for multi-factor authentication called CallVerifID that uses your mobile phone to approve login or other OpenID-enabled services.

I predict that, ultimately, code of conduct and security will win the hearts and wallets of consumers. I suspect there will be no single solution for the vast diversity of interests that consumers have; rather, the social networking of the future will depend on freedom to connect.

If you would like to learn more about Mobile Social Networking, join me on Twitter or FaceBook and share your experiences. IT

Mark Hewitt is Chief Strategic Officer of i2Telecom (News - Alert) International, Inc. (

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