Controlling the social address book

There were lots of recent announcements in the mobile space around adress book / calendar back-ups, tools to save and share content (from pictures to video and messaging).

Vodafone's acquisition of ZYB (still wondering which services were really available commercially or if they only bought competences), o2's launch of Bluebook or SFR's Ma Sfere are good examples on the operator front.

Bluebook is by far the most advanced project with a significant marketing campaign launched last March. I quite like the idea that memories are goind digital and that "now, when you lose your phone, you won't lose your memories". But let's face it, this all about controlling the social adress book. Operators are often viewed by other stakeholders as players who consider to "own the customer".

Reality is that customers own their contacts and use communication services not only from operators but also from Internet players (social networking sites, Instant Messaging,...), particularly the younger generation.

Handset manufacturers (Nokia's OVI, Apple's MobileMe,...) and Internet Players (Yahoo! One connect) are entering the space and want to interact directly with consumers. In the context of PC/mobile convergence, those services will increasingly deliver value. In my opinion, key success factors are:

- ease of use / simplicity. That's not an easy one particularly when you have to sync your device with a PC

- quality / reliability. Consumers are afraid (or should be afraid, see the Edvige debate on related but not that different topic) that their personal data / privacy can be used out of context. If you add into the equation the fact that their location will increasingly be shared via tags and GPS chipsets embedded in phones, there is a need to reassure them.

- interoperability / open Internet. Identity is by definition multiple. You may feel Italian but also European, love football but also rugby and be a member of different niche social networks. You may use Windows Live for IM but have a Yahoo! mail, be a member of Facebook, Bebo and use Google's calendar. The point is not about creating communities (they pre-exist) but giving consumers tools to interconnect on different platforms and to interact with many different contacts. I haven't tested Yahoo! One Connect yet but in this regard, I quite like how open their approach is (aggregator of different social networks, use of tools from competitors).

For French readers, this article of La Tribune sums it up.