Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cingular and Rabble to link young cellphone users reports that Cingular is partnering with Rabble to offer young customers a social networking service for $2.99 a month. The Rabble service "lets users share everything from opinions and photographs to details about local events or places via mobile phones with other subscribers."

According to Julie Ask at JupiterResearch, "only about 2 percent of U.S. wireless customers currently use social networking services on their cellphones."

This probably means the market is underserved or underwhelming or somewhere in between. Ask noted it was "too early to say if such services will reach wide popularity but said Rabble may have a better chance now that it has deals with both Cingular and Verizon Wireless."

She said, "The potential exists on the cellphone. It's just very early." Ask believed "the biggest market for such services could be teenagers." She added, "They just have a real need to be connected, to be liked to know what their friends are doing. They can barely go an hour without knowing they're still there."

Regarding the limitations of handsets, Ask opined that "popular networking sites will always need to be also usable on the traditional Internet because phones, with their tiny screens and keyboards, will always be at a natural disadvantage to computers."

But Conahan said phone size does not limit his customers who see their first cellphone as their first taste of freedom, similar to the role of the first car for older teenagers.

"Never underestimate the amount of time that a teenage girl has to spend with her cellphone," he said.