Zed's community is precious!

Zed announced that it "will unveil a bunch of hugely ambitious community services at CTIA". The new stuff was apparently previewed at a closed press briefing in Madrid today, to which, alas, I was not privy... Test services will apparently go live in two weeks’ time during CTIA.

Zed had announced it had invested a whopping EUR50 million in a web 2.0/mobile 2.0 strategy to drive subscriptions around community services "such as multiplayer gaming, IM, blogging and so on".

After former owner Sonera had sunk legendary fortunes into developing Zed into some monster brand, most people thought it was more or less doomed. When Spanish group LaNetro took them over though, it re-positioned itself and, with 85% in-house produced own content (no royalties) and sometimes contested subscription bodels grew revenues to a rather impressive $320m in 2006.

Now, in the community area, Zed is said to contribute some of the cash it invested into statiOn, an application for PC and mobile that consolidates all these services in one place for Zed subscribers. Version 2 (what a fitting version number for a web 2.0 app) will apparently be launched at CTIA.

Whilst I believe it is entirely on the money to predict that "the mobile market will go the same way as the wired internet in the direction of community services", I am not sure if a - arguably complex-ish - PC-mobile application is the way out; this does not give anyone anything new. In fact, a lot of social networks and communities already today seamlessly evolve into platform-agnostic things: Jaiku uses mobile as a major part, Facebook Mobile sees more users, MySpace and, again, Facebook have announced recent deals in the mobile space, Yospace (acquired by Emap; see also here) is serving 3 and O2 UK, my fine employer Hands-On Mobile has launched Yatta-Video on SFR and soon on other carriers, and everyone else has a "social network" or "community" suite on offer. So will we really need a specific application (downloadable?) that will help connect the two media? Isn't it much rather about seamless -- dare I say it? -- convergence WITHOUT the need for additional (complex) application layers? Isn't this one of the public secrets of web 2.0, its incredible ease of use?

Zed concludes its analysis that "the future is certainly not in solo personalisation products". Well, yes, that might be true but is it really well enough positioned to capture users on their quest into the social networks, too, in particular in the light of the above? I will never ever discount Zed again, so I am truly intrigued by what they will announce and I really hope it is something exciting and innovative. Go on!


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