Increasingly, I’m seeing Web 3.0 (aka the “Next Big Thing”) as the collision of two mega-trends. Mobile commerce and social media are intertwining and are becoming indistinguishable. Or, at least, it’s hard at times to tell where mobile commerce ends and social media begins.
Facebook, for example, is the killer mobile application. As of April, there have been nearly 7 million downloads of the Facebook Mobile iPhone application representing more than 25% of the iPhone and iPod Touch market. Personally, I use Facebook more on my mobile phone than on my computer (despite the lame user interface).
Is Facebook on a mobile phone mobile commerce or social media?
Facebook Mobile is definitely social media and it’s definitely mobile. Facebook is hardly alone in not figuring out the commerce part in mobile.
Interestingly, the public sector seems to get it. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Universities about mobile commerce. Universities understand that their alumni, fans, and of course, their students all use both mobile phones and social media. After all, Facebook started out as a student-only application.
All university outreach, from recruiting to fund raising to athletics, involves relationships. Social media and mobile commerce technology fit perfectly with university goals to build lifelong relationships.
Universities embracing social media on a mobile phone allows them a very intimate, always-there, reminder to the user of their relationship and how the university has affected their life. Social media also lets users share university info with classmates and friends.
Universities can monetize this through their annual fund raising and recruiting efforts. For example, users can challenge classmates in their social network to donate. Both Vanderbilt and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill already have basic mobile sites.
Look for social media and mobile commerce to more directly support university advancement in the future.