The Mobile Phone: “Social Computer”

I usually prefer to read blog summaries as opposed to watching full webcasts of conference sessions, but I spent time today watching the “Smartphone 2010” panel from the AlwaysOn conference last week.

My favorite comments were made by Trip Hawkins, Founder of Digital Chocolate and EA. He made the point about historical monetization of media types – that “social network” media (e.g. traditional phones) has consistently garnered around 10x in monthly revenues per user than traditional non-connected media types. The figures are debatable, but the substance of his argument is in his conclusion.

He maintains that the highest value media types on mobile phones are going to be ones that “provide access to a social network.” As such, Trip views the mobile phone moving forward as a “social computer.” The applications that connect people in some way are the ones which will drive real value.

This notion takes my thoughts about the mobile camera phone as a portable input device one step further. It’s not just about creating user-generating content, but also sharing it to connect with others. The devices, platforms, and applications which help facilitate the creation of this media and the connections stemming from it are going to be extremely valuable.

Until now my mobile telephone has been a two-way radio capable of playing a few mildly-amusing games and taking a few crude pictures. It is now becoming a portable input & connecting device initiating meaningful connections with people I know and people I don’t yet know.

In my last post on the subject, I asked if the mobile phone is the new mouse. Yes, it certainly is a new input device, but the fact that it is a connecting device is potentially even more important.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.