June 23, 2008 |
For me, any day is a good day when another developer pops up with a new mobile social platform. Today is such a day, as Jibe is moving from the alpha to the closed beta testing phase.
There have been wealth of new mobile social platforms making appearances as of late. My favorite variety have been mobile social aggregators. This is largely because I have my paws in far too many social applications, and any platform that can pull together my favorite social tools is simply more appealing than basic mobile social communities.
Jibe would be one of those aggregators. It seems (from what I can ascertain from the company's page, as it is in closed beta currently) that Jibe aggregates many of the normal platforms like Facebook, MySpace and Youtube, and is adding support for Bebo and Orkut. The platform can operate via download to your mobile unit, directly on your computer or by SMS-messaging if you can't access those.
Adding a bit of flare to the idea of status updates and "poking," users can update their friends with "shouts," which are recorded voice expressions that indicate your mood. I'm not sure how fond I would be of having my phone playing someone else's whimsical shouts, but you have to do something to stand out, right?
Jibe seems to be fairly similar to another platform I recently discussed called Xumii , though Xumii had a little more functionality to silence the "noise" of normal aggregators. Most significantly, Xumii has groups that allow users to fine-tune the conversations and feeds they are constantly involved in. This feature resembles the "Room" feature of Friendfeed, a platform that is catching some heat for having too much "noise" from random users that many don't care a hoot about.
Critics have been knocking social aggregators , especially the mobile variety, for being impractical and too detailed for on-the-go devices. I believe the essential problem with noise levels of social aggregators is that those aggregators aren't seamlessly integrated with mobile operating systems.
Right now, because many mobile carriers are just starting to hook people onto the idea of smart phones with data plans, most downloadable social applications are still based on SMS-messaging. Though unlimited text plans might seem like a great fit for getting text updates to social applications, I can definitively say it is far too noisy. The best part about social aggregation is that you don't have to read every little thing that pops up, something that is unavoidable when your inbox is filled with texts.
If mobile social platforms are based on data, they still aren't really being integrated properly with handsets and operating systems. All that noise that worries critics comes from platforms or aggregators not operating seamlessly in the background on handsets. Of course, the problem with that is that users will need to have a constant stream of data flowing, not to mention a handset powerful enough to handle running an aggregator around the clock in the background.
Obviously smartphones are best up to the challenge of delivering steady access to a social aggregator. However, it would seem the market isn't quite ready to transition to data and hardware-intensive applications like this. With some time, the frustrations of not-quite-comfortable mobile social platforms should be assuaged when everyone starts adopting high-powered, feature-rich handsets with large or unlimited data packages. Soon, but not yet.