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The Battle for Your Address Book May Involve Streaming for Social Networks
Social networking reworks the mobile address book into a rich media aggregation tool, with new offerings from Zyb, Yahoo, and others highlighted at this week's Mobile World Congress.
Wed., Feb. 14, by Tim Siglin

Barcelona—For those of us who roam the planet—or even the next city—one of the products we always carry with us is the mobile phone. With a growing number of U.S. consumers abandoning the traditional phone, the lure of the mobile phone as a Day-Timer, address book, calendar, and mobile social networking tool continues to grow.

Yet the contact capabilities of most phones—smartphones included—is a bit limited and assumes that one will be able to access a computer to "update" the address book with the newest information.

Several companies at this year's Mobile World Congress intend to change that, tying together a dynamic phone book with location-aware tools that tell you (and your friends) where you are and how you want to be contacted. In addition, the use of a mobile phone with still and video capture pushes these tools into the realm of social network aggregator and narrowcasting.

One company, Zyb.com, expressed surprise at the amount of innovation shown at this year's show.

"After a decade of inertia in the dynamic mobile content space—especially in the address book—all the movement seems to have been in a single day," said one company official during an informal discussion. "This pushes all of us who are innovating to showcase the benefits of our particular dynamic address book and integrated social networking service."

These new tools work in a fairly simple three-step process: First, the user registers and downloads an application; second, the phone's address book is uploaded into the cloud and then tied against the user's social networking preferences; third, the dynamic data—including updates from friends, family and colleagues in the address book—is pushed back to the mobile phone in real time.

One of the issues facing all the companies showcasing this type of technology—Zyb, Miyowa and Yahoo—is the fact that many users already use their phones for one or two key social networks, such as Twitter or Facebook, and don't want to add yet another one. Yet the compelling reasons to do so, at least from the companies' standpoints, are the ability to send content to one location and have it disseminate to multiple locations.