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July 20, 2011

Social and Mobile: The Converging War of Platforms

Mobile is heating up. iOS and Android are fighting  for users as newcomers enter to gain a piece of the market. At the same time the social platform war is equally enraged. Facebook is attempting to maintain its commanding lead, Twitter is bringing various 3rd party services in-house to better “own” their product, and Google+ is exponentially increasing its user base with each passing day. So what happens when these industries converge?

Microsoft chose to ally itself with Facebook years ago after acquiring a large stake in the startup. Their purchase of Skype came only weeks before Facebook unveiled a video chat client using the technology. Bing has fully integrated with Facebook’s social graph to show which friends have liked your search results. Even Windows Phone 7’s “People” tab has deeper integration with Zuckerberg’s social network than any competing OS.

Apple seems to have mimicked this strategy with Twitter. They will be integrating the product into the core of iOS and weaving it throughout their apps. When iOS 5 is released (hopefully soon) users will be able to manage their friends @ handles from within contacts, and tweet directly from Photos, Maps, Camera, and even Safari. Better yet, developers can now utilize a “single sign-on capability” to use Twitter within iOS faster than before.

But Google is not sitting on the sidelines as these treaties are being formed. Google+ is the most ambitious move of the 3 mobile giants, one that may prove to pay off in amazing ways. Right now the only real integration between Android and the + project is the ability to automatically upload your photos directly to Picasa but there are certainly more coming. How social will evolve within Google’s mobile platform is not entirely clear yet, but it’s quite obvious they intend the impact to be huge.

I am not naive enough to suggest that social services will eventually become exclusive to specific operating systems but the chance there will be an “added bonus’” is high. I’m skeptical that it will ever become an end-all selling point when picking up a new phone but it certainly could help sway consumers. It’s an interesting trend, one that could either slowly dissolve as social tools are fully integrated across all platforms (which I personally believe is inevitable) or could continue to differentiate the market and make the differences between each consumer phone even more significant.

How funny (and unrealistic) would it be if in 2 years we see the all-too-common iPhone ad proclaiming, “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have Twitter.”