The market for social networking on your mobile phone is wide open, with neither Facebook nor Google offering anything compelling.
Right now, mobile communication revolves around texting, and it’s unlikely move away from that soon. It’s no surprise then, that most companies building mobile social networks are building around texting. Mig33 has seen success in Asia by offering texting, but also IM and phone service around it.
But texting has a big drawback. It doesn’t offer a lot of intelligence – there’s no way to let you peer into your list of friends or capture other content from friends. BluePulse, backed with $6 million from VantagePoint Venture Partners, is the latest to focus on building a mobile network around SMS — by bringing SMS, email, and phone all into one interface. The company says it already is getting 100 million page views monthly with its existing messaging service, which lets friends share things like photos.
Today it launches its new messaging service. It works for smart-phones, including Blackberries, Treos and iPhones, having only worked on Java-enabled phones until now. You can download it through your Web browser.
The interface is straight-forward and simple enough to use. The question is whether people will really want to merge all their communications — IM, email, phone — into a single interface at Bluepulse. It’s easy to do, and might get some takers, but its too early to tell how viral this can be without some extra umph.
Here’s how it works. You get a free download at Bluepulse.com, which installs the application onto your phone. It lets you add friends (they must accept) and then message them directly, or message them in groups. [Note: The service isn’t downloading to our Treo properly today; this article is written on the basis of a demo several days ago.]
Bluepulse then functions by separating your sending and receiving screens.
Your sending screen gives you the ability to send any kind of message to a single friend, or to a group of friends. You can send to their email, SMS account, or phone number. This way, you can start all your communication within Bluepulse. Bluepulse says it is the only mobile messaging system to bring all outgoing forms of communication into one screen.
But Bluepulse recognizes that if you’re sending a text to someone, they’ll respond by text. When they do, the text message arrives with a link. You hit the link in your text, and it takes you into your Bluepulse account, where you can continue. The same thing happens with email. If they respond by email, you a link takes you into your Bluepulse account.
You can store up to 10,000 messages in your inbox, and you can filter by what you’ve read, and what you haven’t read, or search for communications with certain friends.
By letting you create a group, say “family,” you can message your relatives. It provides status page, too, letting you show images of your latest activity. [In this way, it is trying to offer a Twitter effect too]. You can also seek to befriend people who your friends have included on group messages.
It lets you add friends from your Facebook, Orkut, Gmail, MSN and MySpace accounts.