Unified Communication is a mobile chat application that leverages your social graph and adds cool features like photo and location sharing. This is especially important now because mobile behavior is forming now and companies from startup to heavy weights are rushing to offer customers the lock-in-through-habit experience they can have their their phone.
In short – it’s a battle to take over your mobile contact list management + how you share and make friends when you’re mobile. The current contenders are from a broad spectrum, newest ones that have gained entry are:
- Kik – free texting, group messaging, photo sharing
- Groupme – free group texting service features photos and location
- Yobongo – an location app designed to meet people you don’t know
- Jabber – acquired and polished Cisco
Old messengers including Skype, Meebo, ebuddy, pidgin also have big plans to move into the unifieid communication space because they realize the winner will gain an application that its users access constantly.
However, no matter how clever or fun these companies are, the real winners behind unified communication are platform providers like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. Google is already deep in many aspects of internet life now its android platform is number 1 in the U.S. – see table below. It gives Google a perfect opportunity to be the mobile social platform of choice.
(Note: Just 6 months ago, Google was #3 behind Apple and RIM)
I would say small fortune can still be made in hopes of being acquired. GigaOM author has offered good tips below:
- Universal communications channels. It should handle communications both real-time and asynchronous, one to one and multi-party, and across different channels: voice, email, text, video. IMs should convert to SMS messages if the receiver is away from his computer or smartphone. Email and messaging from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are good at this already.
- Contact management. Besides just storing contacts and their various addresses, a universal communications hub increasingly needs to manage groups. It’s even better if that doesn’t require a user to work too hard. Facebook is attempting to get users to tag group members rather than make lists and Google’s Gmail prioritization learns from behavior. Location-based services and social graphs about a user’s relationships and preferences will play a big role here.
- Presence management. People need better control over managing their availability. With chat and IM, you’re either available to all or not, and you have to manually screen your phone calls. Integrating contact groups and presence, a person could make himself available in real time for family in the evening, but available to co-workers only via email.