Skittles candy from Mars has taken its brand to a level where many brands have not gone before. Instead of delivering controlled brand messages on its website, it is transforming the site into a navigator for its social media universe. Particularly impressive is its home page shows chatter about ‘skittles’ on Twitter Search. In such laissez-faire environment, real-time updates streaming on Twitter Search can be both positive and negative mentions.
Foldees is one of the more interesting projects emerging from the Malaysian Web scene in recent years. In a nutshell, it is a greeting cards online store, but with a twist. Instead of employing a team of designers, Foldees is crowdsourcing its design function through the creation of a community of greeting card designers and buyers.
Eteract is a social app for singles and positioned itself as an online activities site for singles. Eteract provides a social platform designed and refined for singles to find their love match and interact with one another in a safe and fun virtual environment. In contrast, social networks like Facebook, Friendster and MySpace provide laissez-faire context for social interactions.
Since its birth on August 06 1991, the World Wide Web has spawned numerous words and concepts. Its 17 years of existence probably can be arbitrarily divided into two epochs; the first (circa 1991 to 2000) is broadly dominated by e-commerce and the current one (c. 2001 to present) by social networking. Here are some of the popularly used terms and concepts used in both epochs, so far:
Inventory of Web(Words)
|1991 – 2000||2001 – present|
vortal (vertical portal)
internet relay chat (IRC)
electronic cash (e-cash)
electronic data interchange (EDI)
electronic funds transfer (EFT)
tag (metadata) / geotagging
really simple syndication (RSS)
massively multiplayer online
role-playing games (mmorpgs)
|Dominant Meme||e-commerce||social networking|
|Superstars||Netscape, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, eBay, Geocities, Hotmail, AltaVista, Priceline, Enron, Webvan, AOL, CDNow, Paypal, Napster, Pets.com, eTrade, Hotbot, FreeMarkets, Excite||Google, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, Friendster, Digg, Wikipedia, Twitter, LinkedIn, Last.fm, Skype, Delicious, Friendfeed, Second Life|
From Google News Archive, we can see the popularity of both ‘e-commerce’ and ‘social networking’ over the years.
Timeline for “E-Commerce”, 1991 to 2008
Timeline for “Social Networking”, 1991 to 2008
Two days ago, I wrote in this blog about a location-based social network named xrosspath (read hear). Globme, a service created by a Taiwan-based company, is almost similar to the offerings of xrosspath.
Globme Front Page
Each Globme’s member will have a profile page, which display their photo, list of contacts (friends), Google Map, posted events displayed in timeline format, and list of recent updates (event posted and other comments on their postings). In your profile page, there’s a button for others to add you as friends (see below sample of a profile page).
Globme Profile Page
Similar to xrosspath, users add events at Globme by providing details like description of the event and when & where the event took place. Once you create an event post, you can add photos relevant to the event and you & others can comment on the events. The site also have a ranking system, where a person is ranked based on the number of other users commenting on his/her event posting.
Add Event at Globme
These logged events are viewable by other users and are used for users to discover one another. To make new friends, you find events close to you (and you can define the search radius from where you are).
Discover Events Near You
Currently, this Taiwan-based social network is in Beta 0.1 stage (a few steps in front of xrosspath, which is still in Preview stage) with a handful rough edges to be smoothened.
There are some similarities between Globme and xrosspath. Both sites use logged events to facilitate social networking and both also require users to log their events, in terms of where and when.
One notable difference is the way the social networking approach. Globme uses map-based approach, where user search for ‘events’ near to where they are. From these events, users can discover friends. xrosspath uses its ‘geekish’ xrossfinity and display them in family-tree format (and you can see with whom you’ve crossed path with).
On a more subtle aspect, xrosspath users log their life events and use these events to discover whose path their paths intertwined with. With these discoveries, social networking take place. For Globme, users log their events for other to search them out and also allows other users to comment on their events (the more people comment on their events, they will climb up the Popular Users ranking).
As mentioned in my xrosspath’s post, logging of events must be as simple as possible. For location-based social networks, in addition for providing micro blog entry of an event, users also need to enter time/location. This additional step may discourage usage, once the novelty wears off.
There are three social networks, namely Friendx, eKawan and Emeimei, targeting different market segments in Malaysia. Friendx is targeting at the English-speaking group, eKawan for Bahasa Malaysia and Emeimei for the Chinese. The three social networks, operated by a Malaysian company, offer similar social networking features and adopt similar revenue model. Similar to Pacmee (which was covered here), these social networks tightly coupled its web real estate with mobile services; positioned as online mobile social community.
Launched in 2003, Friendx claimed to have more than 150,000 members (the figure is probably the combined total of users of Friendx, eKawan and Emeimei). It enables members to find new friends and companionships and offers typical social network ‘goodies’, namely profile page, chatroom, blog and video/audio upload. It also offers personalized avatars to its members.
Friendx Front Page
The social network offers free and premium membership. Users with premium membership get to update their blog & upload of video via their cellphones, unlimited blog messages per day, no banner ads on their blog pages, just to name a few.
Each activated premium membership will automatically subscribed to its Cupid Match, a match-making service, where members receive ‘matches’ notification on their mobile phones. Subscription is RM2.00 per week. For each SMS request and received, the charge is RM0.50. Additionally, members that want to accessorize their avatars will need to buy the virtual items with Points. These Points can be bought using Maybank2U.com or via SMS to Friendx. Both Emeimei and eKawan also have similar revenue tactic and also product concept.
Emeimei Front Page
eKawan Front Page
I did a quick search at whois.com and discovered that the technical and administrative contact of the three domains, friendx.com, ekawan.com and emeimei.com, is Susan Miyaki from Universal Dating Network, with contact address in Seoul, South Korea. I’m not sure if there is any Korean connection, in relation to the three social networks. Based on the company’s relatively dated press releases, it is found that the top management are PY Tey, President and CEO, Gerald Heng, Vice President of Product Development and Eric Lim, Vice President of Business Development.
xrosspath is an interesting intersection of a personal journal and location-based social networking, which enables users to visualize their life path, in terms of space (where) and time (when).
Each social networking site uses different stimuli to catalyze the creation of social ties (these ties then lead to site’s stickiness). Facebook uses its ‘fun’ applications to foster social networking. Last.fm offers free music and log listeners’ music preferences; users then can find friends with similar music taste. For xrosspath, it’s social stimulus is xrosspoint.
xrosspath provides a platform for users to log their life events e.g. restaurants visited, social events, school attended, etc. Each logged life event is a xrosspoint on xrosspath. A xrosspoint represents a snap-shot of one’s life experience and is used to create ‘shared meanings’ among those who were there at that particular point in time. These shared meanings are used to facilitate social networking on xrosspath.
login page of xrosspath
Each xrosspoint is logged in a Timeline. Proximity of two xrosspoints are calculated and its value is called xrossfinity. The closer the two xrosspoints, the higher is the xrossfinity value, which then means the path of the two individuals’ crossed.
timeline of xrosspath
To add a xrosspoint to the Timeline, a user needs to enter ‘start date/time’ and ‘end date/time’ and then determine the location where the event took place. Time and physical location are two key components for xrosspath to work. Its Location Finder is integrated with Google Maps. The user is also required to describe the nature of the event. For example, “I proposed to my wife here” and “My favorite Italian food restaurant.”
xrosspoint entry page
Currently, xrosspath is still in preview stage. According to Kegan Gan, Chief Technology Geodude (really, that’s his job title), they should have a more solid product out in a few more months. It is unclear what other features and functionalities will be incorporated to the complete product, other than what already available now.
One of the key challenges for xrosspath is to entice users to log their life events (or xrosspoints). It needs to create a sort-of “Just Push Play” mechanism to motivate users to log as many snap-shots of their life path as possible. Successful accumulation of xrosspoints from its users will create social vibrancy on xrosspath ecosystem, which ultimately, determine its sustainability.
xrosspath, a Cyberjaya-based company, is joining a host of players in offering location-based social application. All the key players, namely Brightkite, Loopt and Whrrl offer different flavors of location-based social networks. The recent two acquisitions – Nokia bought Germany’s Plazes and Vodafone bought Denmark’s ZYB – seem to indicate the growth potential of location-based social networks.
Pacmee is a mobile-variant of social networking, which enables mobile users to send Twitter-like messages, or shoutouts, via their mobile phones. Users sign up and send shoutouts via SMS (using shortcode). Each shoutout will be sent to all the followers of a user via SMS and also posted on its website (www.pacmee.com) and mobile site (m.pacmee.com) and also its My Shoutout widgets.
The widgets can be embedded on Friendster, Tagged, Blogger, MySpace.com, Xanga.com, Multiply, Profileheaven, Yahoo! 360, hi5, Yahoo! Geocities, eBay, Wretch, Windows Live, Blog.com, Blog Drive, Diaryland, Piczo, LiveJournal, Tripod, TypePad and Freewebs. Its Public Timeline is available on its website, www.pacmee.com.
Users send shoutouts via SMS (with shortcode 22700) and will be charged RM1 for every 20 shoutouts on top of standard SMS request fee of RM0.05 for each SMS. In addition, there is a charge of RM1.00 every month and a user get to receive 50 shoutouts from the people they are following, at no charge. Currently, it is only available to Maxis (postpaid and Hotlink) subscribers.
Pacmee adopts (almost) fully the concept of Twitter, from the functionality perspective. Twitter positioned as utility for micro-blogging; Pacmee is yet another SMS-based service. It focuses on mobile phone users (in Malaysia).
Twitter also offers its users to send their tweets (messages) via their mobile phones (yes, even in Malaysia). A quick check on Twitter, there are about 27,080 Malaysian users; not sure about the number of Pacmee subscribers. There’s a total of 20+ million mobile phone subscribers in Malaysia.
For Twitter, it’s about growing its community first and worry about monetizing it later. Pacmee is monetizing its sms-based life-streaming from Day 1.