New ways to tap power of the people

Companies are finding ways to engage social networking for new applications, including location-based services and video on demand.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--The social networking phenomenon is moving from the Web and finding life in new applications, according to some companies at the imbX show this week.

Speaking at a conference session Thursday morning, Navteq vice president of partner and developer programs, Marc Naddell noted the trend toward incorporating social networking applications in location-based services (LBS), as he cited the past years' entries to Navteq's annual global developer competition.

According to Naddell, entries from Europe and the United States focused on pure navigation and mapping applications in previous years, going toward games in the last two years.

However, there was a boost in "niche" applications submitted this year, many of which incorporated social networking features to connect diverse interest groups together. Naddell raised the example of a bird watching application which would geo-tag photos of birds spotted to a large pool of photos, so that people could group the locations of commonly sighted birds.

The Asia-Pacific region showed a similar preference for Web 2.0 applications. Navteq's competition, which was just opened this year to the region, showed the majority of 33 percent of applications centering around social networking, and the next largest segment of 29 percent going to applications which relied on user-generated content.

"This is clearly where the future of GPS (global positioning system) lies, in bringing people together," said Naddell.

A consortium based in Korea is also working to bring social networking elements to broadcast TV.

Called dotTV, the consortium made up of Korean giants KBS, Samsung and LG, and digital TV technology vendors like Irdeto, hopes to tap the power of the people to drive interest in its offering.

June Kim, Irdeto APAC marketing manager told ZDNet Asia at the Irdeto booth at the imbX that dotTV is aimed primarily at competing with IPTV.

"IPTV is more for the tech-savvy younger crowd, but dotTV is simpler to use for the family," she said, adding that dotTV's backing by traditional broadcasters lends it wider breadth in terms of content.

Users are able to send TV program recommendations to friends who are also subscribers. Information such as what shows are watched and forwarded are compiled against the profiles of groups of friends, and will help provide a more "intelligent" search for more content, according to Irdeto.

Furthermore, this metadata that is collected will enable dotTV to offer more targeted advertising to clients, said Kim.

"Broadcast revenues are coming down all the time, because advertising budgets are being spread between other forms of broadcast like mobile TV. This business model allows dotTV to offer something more to companies," added Kim.

The service will trial in 3,000 Korean homes by year's end, and is expected to be deployed in 2009, with plans to be expanded to other regions after, according to Kim.

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