There have been social networks set up around mobile devices or mobile brands, namely Nokia. It was generally for the purpose of gaining some consumer data based on app usage and other metrics that can be garnered from seeing what users like and don’t like about their phones. So it’s not a far stretch for BlackBerry to be launching a social network for similar purposes. It may be a necessary step for several devices and manufacturers that are supportive of the economy a mobile application platform can provide, especially as pretty much any other platform other than Apple will need all the help it can get.
So RIM BlackBerry is reportedly coming out with a social network of sorts this week, dubbed MyBlackBerry. The network will be for BlackBerry users, giving them a social profile where they can review mobile apps, and even complain about them. It’s biggest potential advantage would be the ability to turn all those reviews and complaints into recommendations and searchable data for making BlackBerry applications more discoverable. This would, in the end, promote BlackBerry’s mobile application platform.
It could be considered a way to get a leg up on Apple’s own mobile application platform for the iPhone, which is rendered through iTunes. Have you noticed that iTunes is notoriously difficult to search? Customer reviews, complaints and other data are hard to come by and the end result is a mobile app economy that supports those with lots of cash and marketing power instead of reflecting the true capacity of the longtail (still epitomized by nearly all things iTunes related).
While user-generated reviews within a social network is a somewhat passe way in which to gain and repurpose information, it can be readily applied to mobile app platforms in this early stage. So far, MyBlackBerry sounds good in concept. But as mentioned on TechCrunch, the network itself is more like a “bulletin board” and the ability to view apps is limited to only those that are supported by your phone.
Is this limiting BlackBerry’s ability to leverage its own network? Perhaps seeing reviews on apps designed for the BlackBerry Storm will encourage other BlackBery users and non-BlackBerry users to make the move to a new device. Opening up a network such as this could really help BlackBerry if implemented well. This could be a tactic other platforms use to one-up Apple’s iTunes store.
[image credit DC to BC]