/Social networks or social platforms?

Social networks or social platforms?

Blogging from DLD in Munich. The social networks panel was great, with all people (from Bebo, Facebook, Linkedin and Xing) basically saying the same thing: “We are building a platform, not a network”. That is, they want to create the infrastructure (or the utility, according to Xing) so that software and content developers can add the local and personal flavour that is missing to them.

In the case of non-professional networks, they are specially interested in content owners. Professional networks talk about giving companies the opportunity to become social by integrating their platform in their computer system. Both share another future revenue: transparent marketplaces. Nothing to do with eBay but with industries that currently sell through newspapers, such as jobs, cars or real estate. In fact, Linkedin is already making money out of job offers and demands.

Another trend: there is already a clear commercial fight between Facebook (and Microsoft) supporters and Google’s OpenSocial ones. Professional networks go for Google’s option, but the rest seem to prefer Facebook’s. With one exception: Lotus Symphony, which I heard has developed a Facebook API so that companies can integrate this tool into their working environment. Xing is very focused on developing tools for companies. It plans to integrate its network with CRM systems, mail and mobile phones. Probably using OpenSocial and Google’s mobile platform.

They also gave some very optimistic data:
– Linkedin is doubling its audience every year. It earns money.
– Xing plans to keep buying social networks. It is also buying users in the US.
– Facebook already has a third of its traffic coming from Europe and plans to double this with its brand new multilingual system (it took long!).
– Everybody agrees that people won’t keep more than one profile in one network and that e-mail could take this role. A good chance for Yahoo!