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Home » Jagriti Yatra

Social networking for social entrepreneurship

Submitted by on March 22, 2008 – 20:077 Comments

Everyone is socializing these days. If it’s not social networking on the Internet then it’s social networking in real life. More recently the social networking bug has started to catch on in the mobile world. A crop of new and not-so-knew services have entered the market and most have been slowly circulating by word of mouth. I guess since this technology is so new – many of the entrants on the mobile social networking scene are still in "beta" test mode and treading causiously with a limited audience to test the waters, so to speak.

I wanted to write about the onset of mobile social networking as I believe it will have a huge impact on the Indian mobile user base. It’s a well known fact that in India there are now more mobile subscribers then land line subscribers and the uptake of mobile phones is sky rocketing on a monthly basis. The pervasive nature of the mobile is far greater than the Internet which still has not reached the large majority of the India population. Even within the middle classes in India, the Internet is a luxury and for those who do have "broadband" services in India, the speed and reliability is not a patch on international services in Europe, USA and parts of south east Asia you’ll find faster, more reliable braodband services and less confusing tariff structures and options. However, where India does have a very robust user base, with good service support is in the mobile phone market. Nokia is by far the dominant hand set manufacturer in the Indian. GSM rules the roost, so most people are still on what’s known as 2G (80% of userbase). There is a growing number of subscribers signing up to the CDMA packages which are on offer as they provide a faster experience on the mobile,. This technology is commonly referred to as 2.5G but this is primarily being used by business users right now in India – especially by those with laptop data cards from the likes of Reliance, Vodafone and Tata Indicomm. The advent of third generation (3G) networks in India has yet to arrive although there has been recent consensus in the Indian parliament on how to carve up the 3G spectrum (as recently as March 2008) although there is hot debate on right now about whether or foreign mobile networks should be allowed to buy up 3G spectrum licenses in the Indian market place. The next few months will prove very interesting for all those who are watching the developments with 3G in India.

How can we, as a social entrepreneurship venture, utilise the mobile social network given that it penetrates the Indian population to such a great (and growing) degree? More specifically, I am really interested to know how we, as an organisaiton, can exploit the mobile services in India to build a mobile community that will glu together our ever growing network of supporters and build a truly awsome mobile social network. Allow me to highlight a number of interesting technologies which almost anyone in India with a modern mobile phone can take advantage of right now.

If you are in India, in possession of a mobile phone and reading this blog entry, then there is one pre-requisite you must know about. Everything I’m about to write about requires that you have a data plan for your mobile. Most Indian mobile networks offer this at a flat fee rate. If you don’t have a data plan then contact your mobile providers customer services and ask them what your options are. You should tell them that you want to access the internet from your mobile. It also helps if you have a modern mobile phone. If you have a Nokia, Sony Ericson, LG, Moto or Blackberry that’s less than 2 years old (as of March 2008) then you’ll probably be able to utlise everything I’m about to tell you about.

First up is Twitter. If any of you have been using Facebook you’ll know what I mean when I say that Twitter is simply the status field of Facebook. You can Twitters away from your computer or even your mobile phone. If you have a Blackberry you can get a great bit of software (free) called Twitterberry which allows you to tweet on the move. Twitter, put another way, allows you to post short 140 character messages to an open or closed group (or groups) of friends and acquaintances. Should you wish to keep your messages within a closed group of friends you can do so, or alternaively you might feel that your dialy life is so immense that the whole twitter community needs to know about it. The option is yours and your privacy is in your own hands. Lets say you get to go to an amazing conference, fully paid up by your employer, but your colleagues and your friend outside your company are so lucky and don’t get to go. Well get them all on your Twitter list and you can send them all regular, brief updates from your conference and make them feel a part of the event. It might sound frivolous but once you get on to Twitter it can become highly addictive!

Next up is Trutap. This is a very young company. They’ve been in business for under a year (as of March 2008) and recently secured some more funding to expand their business. They have a user base in over 100 terriories world wide and have a strong and growing user base in India already. The idea behind Trutap is to unite a number of existing technologies in to one application. Many of you reading this may already have your own blog, a lot of you will have camera phones on which you takes photos and vidoes and post them up to your blogs. Others may like to chat on Instant Messenger platforms such as Yahoo Chat, MSN Live Chat, AOL Instant Messenger and Google Talk. Trutap unifies all their seperated plaforms in one Java application which you can download for free to your mobile. On your mobile just go to http://m.trutap.com to get an over the air download of the application.  Once you’re signed up you can form groups of friends and message them en-mass without incurring the cost of SMS’ing them all individually. You can chat to them all on their own respective favourite IM that they’re logged in to because in Trutap you’re logged in to all of them all at once. Your IMs will go from your mobile to their laptop screens and back to your mobile. You can even use Trutap to write your blog, take photos and post them all up to your blog.  Trutap is in the process of upgrading their current software and when the new version is out you’ll be able to do a whole lot more. You can already download a Facebook application that suppors Trutap and show your IMs and messages from Trutap in your Facebook page. Keep an eye on them as they’re a hot start up with a lot of growth ahead of them.

Finally, there’s a combination which packs a punch. A lot of you may have heard of the photo sharing community called Flickr. It’s popular with the prosumer and professional photography crowd and is arguably one of the best photo sharing web sites in existance today, although there are many alternatives which offer a similar experience. Those of you who own Nokia N-Series mobiles may not know that your phone has the ability to directly upload photos you take on it to Flickr. So if you have a Flickr account check out the Flcikr upload option on your handset. The built in uploader is rather basic so you what you might want to consider is using a free download Java application called Shozu. It is a nifty piece of software which makes the process of taking and loading photos to Flickr (and other places on the web) a hole lot easier and more fun. Using Shozu you can post your pictures up, view the comments people have left on your photos, reply to those comments, tag, title and describe your photos and even manipulate your images.  The other great feature of Shozu is that you can subscribe to feeds which allows your phone to download photos and video in the background and automatically with no user intervention. I ususually have my phone do this over night so that in the morning I have a collection of short news bulletin videos and tech news updates ready to watch or listen to on the train in to work. It’s a really great sevrice and I do encourage you to check it out.

What all this mobile social network enables us as an organisation and you as participants to do is form social networks online and on your mobiles. It allows for the exchange of ideas, photos, videos, opinions and a host of other things. It is what’s known as user generated content. Just image if you’re one of the selected Yatri’s or a registered participant and you’re on the Jagriti Yatra train with all this mobile technology at your fingers tips. You can Twitter about what you’re currently doing and let every one know that you’ve just shaken hands with the CEO of a huge company. You could snap photos on your mobile during the Yatra at every stop, of all the people you are meeting and immediately post it up to Flickr so that everyone can see what you’re going through during the Yatra. How about doing a short video interview on your mobile phone with your travelling buddies and talking about the excitment and discoveries you’ve made and then  posting them up immediately to your blog so that TV, radio and newspaper journalists can get an almost real time picture of what’s going on? How about Trutapping with all your buddies whilst you’re on the train? You don’t need a laptop anymore to send instant messages to your friends on Google talk, Yahoo or MSN. The mobile opens all these doors to you and much more.

We’d like to hear from you about your experiences with the above mentioned mobile social networking services. Download them and play around. Check out the features and report back your findings here on this blog. Perhaps you’ve already been using a lot of this stuff and you know of other exciting services you want to share with us? Go ahead and post your suggestion here.  I look forward to reading your comment.

Kaustav Bhattacharya

Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Aparna Gonibeed

    Hey Kaustav,

    Very interesting information.. I downloaded Trutap already, am quite impressed. I like the effort they have put in to interact with the user while the application connects to the internet.. made me smile.. 🙂

    I am guessing Twitter is not available for download on other mobiles than a Blackberry. I heard in the news that Blackberry came under serious security scan ‘coz the emails / information sent/rec by the phone has to go through the server in Canada, which can be a hassle, considering the current terrorist scene..

    I have a Sony Ericsson, so the Shozu is out of reach for me now,but, can ask my brother to check it out..

    Thanks.. I would like to be posted more on such information.. Looking forward to meeting the rest of the yatra team soon! 🙂

  • http://www.jagritiyatra.com Kaustav Bhattacharya

    Hi Aparna,
    Thanks for leaving your comment. Shozu will work on most Sony Ericsson phones. I have used it on my slightly older Sony Ericsson which is three years old and it work son that just fine. Of course, you should first check the Shozu web site to see if they list your phone model as compatible. I’ll look you up on Trutap and tap you soon! LOL

    Not all Blackberry traffic goes via Canada. Some large corporates install their own Blackberry server which means the traffic goes through your company network. It’s a rather complex setup, the Blackberry, and every time I try to explain it to myself, let alone to others, it seriously reduces the number of brain cells I possess! LOL So anyway, for the fear of madness, I will end the BB conversation right here!

    There are loads of Twitter clients out for all types of phone. I’ll list a few I found after doing a google:

    Abiro Jitter
    Four different tweeter clients listed here

    I’ve not tried any of these out, but I will do soon, so expect a review at some point. In the mean time, feel free to try them out yourself and report back here.

    Kaustav

  • Sanjana

    Well written article, social networking has become the easiest way to build up your network, and business networking sites really help businessperson and especially entrepreneurs to find useful contacts. One such business networking site is SiliconIndia.com, where one gets an opportunity to directly come in touch with Successful people in their interested field and thus can seek suggestion regarding their business, which is really helpful and in many ways these contacts can help you in near future. http://www.siliconindia.com/register.php?id=0wu4v2UV

  • http://www.myblogspan.com Edwin

    Thanks for your awesome notes!
    I think that social networking has become the easiest way to build up your network, and business networking sites really help businessperson and especially entrepreneurs to find useful contacts. Its more successful in all fields.

  • Sid

    Hi Koustav,
    I have a sony ericsson W580i, and i downloaded trutap for my phone. As you know it has a messaging service. But everytime i try to send a message, it says it needs to verify my mobile number. . . But there is no option to do so… How do we verify?Plz help. . . My contact number is 919731916169, so Plz gimme 2 msg wen you post a reply… Better yet, if you can try to post as reply to me via email or phone… I m in karnataka. spsiddharth007@gmail.com

  • Sid

    Hi Koustav,
    I have a sony ericsson W580i, and i downloaded trutap for my phone. As you know it has a messaging service. But everytime i try to send a message, it says it needs to verify my mobile number. . . But there is no option to do so… How do we verify?Plz help. . . My contact number is 919731916169, so Plz gimme a msg wen you post a reply… Better yet, if you can , Plz post as reply to me via email or phone… I m in karnataka. spsiddharth007@gmail.com

  • Sid

    Sorry about the double post. . . I am posting from my phone browser.