Orange, Vodafone push further into social networking

Social networking remains at the core of operators’ attempts to stimulate mobile broadband usage, with Orange UK on Wednesday announcing a social networking aggregation tool.

Social Life brings together activity on Facebook, MySpace and Bebo in one central interface, with one single login, accessible via the Orange World portal.

The platform allows users to upload photos, update their status, keep track of friends’ status updates, view notifications, messages, events, pokes and friend requests, and send and receive messages. Social Life also integrates SMS capabilities, allowing users to send and receive updates by text.

Orange said it will look to incorporate more social networks throughout the year.

The carrier recently revealed that its number of monthly unique users to social networking sites jumped 48 per cent quarter on quarter in the three months to the end of February, to 946,564, while monthly page impressions climbed 129 per cent. The average number of social networking pages per user per month hit 397, indicating some heavy usage.

Meanwhile, rival UK operator Vodafone is rumoured to be gearing up for a launch of its own social networking and aggregation platform, believed to be called Vodafone People.

In 2008, Vodafone acquired Danish social networking firm Zyb for €31.5m in cash. Zyb is a little different from the MySpaces and Facebooks of the social networking world in that its focus is on enabling users to back up and share their handset’s calendar, messages, contact information and the like online.

Voda said Zyb would increase communication choices for its customers by enabling them to send messages and images from their PC to multiple mobile devices in their mobile community, as well as taking advantage of the functionality of an instant messaging service.

Pieter Knook, internet services director for Vodafone Group, said: “Vodafone understands that the core of any customer’s personal and business network is the set of contacts they hold on their mobile phone. Using a web portal as a link between the PC and the mobile device, Zyb provides an interactive way for people to nurture, contact and develop their relationships with their most important friends and colleagues and builds links with those contacts’ wider networks. This is Web 2.0 in action.”

Vodafone People is expected to allow integration with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Bebo, and GTalk.

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