August 19, 2007

BarCampBlock: Mobile Social Software

It seems like whenever you have a talk about mobile software, it devolves into converstation about everything that is wrong with the space (constrictive nature of the carriers, all phones have different properties, hard to develop for, hard to get users to adopt things, etc.). But, I thought that we got to some interesting points in this conversation, about mobile applications that can work today. You have to think simpler, and base things on SMS and WAP. Everybody wants to do cool things with location-based services and whatnot, but the technology just isn't there yet.

My notes follow.

led by: jordy, social games at digital chocolate,

skyhook - company in boston, makes a firefox extension (loki) - senses nearby wifi networks, tries to triangulate your location based upon SSIDs that it can see (they built a DB that maps SSID to location)

standards in mobile

  • WAP is pretty much a standard
  • SMS is finally a standard (as of like 2 years ago)

if you get embedded on the phone - you're golden. People don't download java apps to phone (too hard, poor experience, etc)

barriers to entry

  • downloadable apps - have to do engineering per phone
  • barriers on cost side - costs money sms (e-mail to sms gateway works for hackers)
  • distribution - have to find ways to get people to find your app
  • usability - if it isn't sms or wap, people probably won't figure it out and use it


admob - mobile ads, works in wap browser; can target ads per country, operator, handset, etc.

  • any hacker dude can add admob to their mobile site
  • also, can buy ads, to help distribution

wurfl - open source mobile device db

Papers and other sources:

twitter is another great example of what can work in mobile - so stupid simple, which is key to their success - tracks mobile industry news, has pointers to lots of other good stuff

Posted by andyr at August 19, 2007 3:26 PM


I work with Skyhook Wireless and was hoping to be at the event but had to change plans at the last minute.

Im really glad to see people are talking about fun stuff like mobile social networks and what can be done *now*. We can definitely offer developers a way to get location information that is not dependent on carriers. We offer an SDK that allows developers to integrate our Wi-Fi Positioning engine into their apps with very little work.

Right now only Windows Mobile is supported, but stay tuned in the coming weeks for Symbian and Linux Mobile :)

Check it out and let me know your thoughts. You can reach me at: rsarver at skyhookwireless(com)

Posted by: Ryan Sarver at August 20, 2007 4:30 PM

Hey, thanks a ton for posting these notes! I saw them first on the bar camp wiki, it's great stuff. I also updated that wiki page with some slides I presented a few weeks ago at a mobile social networking conference, kinda wish I had gone through them real quick at the beginning to focus the discussion a but, but I guess that's the beauty of Barcamp. :)

also check out the Mobile Monday group on bebo at



Posted by: Jordy Mont-Reynaud at August 21, 2007 3:20 PM
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