There is an all out battle going on between mobile companies, software companies, VAS developers as well as companies providing mobile operating systems to gain an advantage in market with the help of social networking websites, which are attracting thousands of users every day. Motorola Cliq, RIM Travel Smartphone, Samsung S3653 Corby are the latest phones to have social networking features specially designed to give users the web based experience on their handset. 

Nokia India recently offered 'live life online' feature for free on the purchase of Nokia E63, E71 and E75 'QWERTY' device. This feature allows users to check mail, blog and many other things on their phone. Nokia recently acquired Dopplr, a travel social networking website, and extended its list of other recently acquired companies like Plum and Cellity. By acquiring these companies (related to social networking) Nokia is trying to find new ways of making its mobile phones attractive. Nokia users can now update their status on Facebook through Nokia Ovi account. Facebook, a global social networking platform is increasing in popularity globally. 70 percent of its users are outside the U.S. and there are more than 300 million active users on internet. Out of these, more than 65 million users access Facebook through their mobile devices.

Mobile companies are also trying to integrate Twitter which allows users to post a message of around 140 characters. Twitter, also called the SMS of internet, is used by social networking enthusiast as well as corporates to inform their supporters about the latest updates.

Research in Motion (RIM) is now using services from SHAPE, which will allow Facebook users to exchange instant messages with smileys, send files, log in into multiple accounts simultaneously and preview avatar images of their buddies in contact list. According to SHAPE services, IM+ 7.0 supports eight instant messaging services: AIM/iChat, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo!, MySpaceIM, Jabber, ICQ, GoogleTalk, and Facebook.

RIM recently launched Blackberry Tour Smartphone in partnership with Reliance Mobile. It provides easy access to Facebook and MySpace and also supports various messenger services. Satchit Gayakwad, India Spokesperson, RIM says that people no longer want to be restricted by laptop and PCs and want to be in touch with internet anywhere they go. He feels that even service providers have enabled various plans to provide wide range of such services at a cheaper rate to the customers. "If you look at the trend, dominance of internet is increasing in India. Nowadays, any average user has two email ids, two messenger ids as well as an account on two social networking sites. The user feels the need to share photos and latest status with peer and family on the go," said Gayakwad.

Motorola was once a dominant phone manufacturer but now it has slipped to the number four spot. To increase its popularity Motorola recently launched its Android based phone called Cliq which will make it easier to integrate all social networking websites. "MotoBlur makes text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter feeds and photos from sources like MySpace, Gmail, Yahoo and corporate e-mail appear in a single stream and sync them together with no different logins," said Sanjay Jha, Motorola Chief Executive. Motorola is betting that the combination of Blur and Android will make social networking so much better for mobile users that its phones will stand out. 

Even software companies have realized the need to make software which will allow users to be at multiple social networking websites in a more convenient way. Myriad Group, a mobile technology software company, has recently acquired Xumii, a company that provides mobile social networking. Using a cloud computing architecture, Xumii integrates a mobile user's phone contacts, social networks and instant messaging services into a single social phonebook. Mobile users can then simultaneously access Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, Windows Live and other popular social networking websites. 
Value Added Service (VAS) companies in India are also eying the social networking field. Altruist Technologies, a developer of voice and web based value added services, has developed a voice based platform which allows user to check their social networking accounts without internet. All a person has to do is register and make a voice based profile. "Social networking is going to impact the telecom space in a big way. It is a huge business opportunity for developers of VAS to make social networking applications for telecom operators as well as for mobile companies," said Dheeraj Aggarwal, CEO of Altruist Technologies.

Another company which caters to the social networking demands of Indian consumers is Goolel. Goolel uses handset's internet connection to help users to stay connected via Goolel's social network, and messenger such as MSN, Yahoo, Gtalk. To use this application a user does not need to have high end smart phone as it works on any mobile phone.

Google entered the mobile market with the launch of its operating system called Android. Android mobile operating system is open source except some of its features like tight Gmail integration and Google Maps. Seeing the rising popularity of Android, Microsoft has decided to embrace social networking to make its Windows Mobile more attractive. The company has been hinting through its blogs and job application posts that Windows 7 developer group is already working hard on social networking. A post by Microsoft said "The Windows Mobile 7 Communications group is building experiences on the phone that present your content - friends, pictures, messages, events - to you in immersive and engaging ways. Our vision is to bring social networks to life by integrating them into the core experience of the phone. For example, imagine seeing all the newsfeeds from all the networks you care about in a single hub on the phone. Or imagine the phone instantly telling you what your friend is doing and where he is when you get a call from him." 

In short, mobile companies are cashing in on the popularity of social networking sites to attract more customers. Low mobile internet coverage in India has been a show stopper for these mobile giants so far, but the launch of 3G can change the whole scenario in 2-3 years times. Maybe even sooner than expected.
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