Is The Mobile Phone Our Social Net?

This is going to feel like a continuation of yesterday's post which was a continuation of last week's post. But it is what I am thinking about so it is what I am posting about.

I love what @Bryce wrote about mobile on his blog yesterday:

By their nature, these phones were born social. They were built from the ground up to connect us. First with voice, then with text. Now, they’re packed capabilities like photos, videos and a wave of native and web applications. We’re just beginning to catch a glimpse of what a powerful and disruptive force they can be. Not just to incubent handset manufactures and telcos but to social movements and government regimes. 

I’ve made clear my belief that we’re in the midst of a massive global reinvention. Not just a shift from analog to digital, but a shift from centralized control to distributed systems. From isolated single user experiences to a global social fabric. These mobile devices are the of Gutenberg presses of our generation. This is not a bubble, this is a revolution.

Social web services were also "born from the ground up to connect us" but it sure seems like phones are more natural, more fundamental, and more important.


Comments (Archived):

  1. RichardF

    It’s a great post by bryce. I would love to know if Martin Cooper envisioned how quickly and how far the mobile would advance and change the way we live.I do think the mobile is also making us more antisocial as well. My wife and I watched a young couple walk into the coffee shop we were in, sit down, take out mobile devices and stare at the screens without saying a word to each other for about 20 minutes. Which is bizarre when you think that coffee shops developed as centres for social interaction.Sometimes we need to switch them off and enjoy real time interaction with the social network that we are physically present in.It’s also easier to walk down a street if you are actually looking where you are walking instead of looking at a screen, which is something that is definitely on the increase.

    1. markslater

      tru dat.

    2. fredwilson

      Have you seen the tv ads for windows phone 7? They do a great job of makingfun of bad phone behavior

      1. RichardF

        Really…Don’t think they’ve made the other side of the Atlantic yet or I’ve just skipped them on DVR (only thing we watch live in our household is sport)Just watched it on youtube, v funny

      2. andyswan

        Had to have been a tough pitch to marketing:”Well, the data shows people don’t like using our phones as much as those addictive blackberries and droids….maybe we should make that a positive… know….like some guy’s hot wife ready to jump his bones but he’s texting…..ya! That’s the ticket! Our product will get you laid by being lame !”

      3. ErikSchwartz

        I have not yet played with the windows phone but those ads are awesome.

      4. David Wang

        while they do, i think it does not properly position the product. it makes the user feel guilty about using their phone. Is that the right message MS wants to send to their end users? I’m not sure that guilting them into switching phones is a good strategy.In comparison, the apple positioning makes the user feel part of the “in” crowd, the cool kid which we all yearn to be. it’s the status level of owning an apple that makes us buy their products. it’s the benz of computers.

        1. fredwilson

          what kind of food will you code for? 😉

          1. David Wang

            ramen noodles, of course.

          2. fredwilson

            stupid question 🙂

      5. kenberger

        Turns out that Winmo7 is pretty great. Surprisingly innovative.Trouble is they left such a huge time gap. Android came along and has totally won over this former highly vocal winmo advocate.

        1. kenberger

          (1st time seeing my disqus corny catch phrase! cool.)

          1. fredwilson


          2. kenberger

            :)Took me a second to get that.Fred, you know if that URL was available, I’d own it and my catch phrase would be:”I am a MC.Mentored by AVC”.

        2. RichardF

          I think they still have time to come to the party

          1. kenberger

            of course. And i’m in a minority in not ruling them out for signif market share in time.i’m just saying that for *me*, i’m now so deeply bought into the android appsphere, and the already staggering phones and tablets offerings, in addition to a non-PC orientation and neutral allegiance (not biased toward either mac or windows– yes google might build up chromeOS in time), that my Android fling seems like a keeper for quite some years.

          2. RichardF

            I can believe that Ken I’m about to go down the Android route myself – I’m way more PC than Apple

        3. fredwilson

          not a great platform yeta lot of missing apis relative to android and iphone

    3. CJ

      The definition of comfort with your SO is when you both can share space and not conversation and still get satisfaction.

      1. RichardF

        I think my wife would probably disagree with that definition…

        1. Tereza

          Yes — it pisses off my husband so much!But kids are a whole other story.They jump on your lap, take it out of your hand, shake your shoulders and yell “MOMMY STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE!!!”There is nothing subtle about it.

          1. RichardF

            that’s a good thing I think…I like it that my son reminds me in no uncertain terms that it’s time to play. Before long no doubt he’ll be way too interested in an xbox to want to bother with me

          2. Tereza


        2. CJ

          LOL – my wife is as big of an information junkie/bookworm as I am. As Tereza says though, the kids are an entirely different story.

          1. RichardF

            my wife isn’t Malcolm…if she had a smart phone she wouldn’t know what to do with it, although she frequently tells me what she is going to do with mine.

    4. Roland Haddad

      I think we need an app that switches off all our connected services (other than basics – voice, text) when we’re in presence of another friend (syncing and checking against our mobile contacts maybe)…As crazy as this sounds, we need to build apps that manage our life and force us to as you said “enjoy real time interaction with the social network that we are physically present in”.

      1. RichardF

        I think that’s true Roland, like the profiles on mobile phones, silent, meeting etc..

  2. Mark Essel

    It’s hard to beat the personal availability of smart phones. They’re always in reach and connect us immediately to the information (social or otherwise) that we seek. Social web services are a part of the evolution of social tech. Many will fade into the background, becoming distributed reliable tech.Mobile phones are simply a handy portal to social networks, services, protocols, news, documentation, etc. Tablets are a slightly larger form factor but similar function. Netbooks, laptops, and desktop systems represent not just consumption portals but more feature rich tools for building. I need screen real estate for developing code of any type, although it doesn’t hurt for blogging (I get by blogging on a mobile).

    1. awaldstein

      Thoughtful comment Mark…I wonder whether the divide between ‘always on’ breaks. If you include tablets on the side with phones then a MacBook Air with a USB modem belongs where?I tend to need more real estate so have taken over (as it seems you have) many of the phone activities on the tablet. But need to type keeps moving me to a larger always connected form factor.Where’s the line in you opinion?

      1. Mark Essel

        That line is determined by the task at hand. I push the phone form factor with blogging, it’s difficult and sometimes frustrating but quite possible.The larger tablet is perfect for easier living room reading/consuming and light commenting/social web activity while having Netflix on in the background.The Air or light but fully capable laptop is perfect for dedicated work on the go whether it’s visualization, slides, design, video editing or coding.The desktop/iMac yields even more real estate and is the BFG of computer aided work, and my goto tool at home.

    2. falicon

      I think this gets at the main thing that’s been bugging me about all the hype around mobile…to me it’s not about phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc….all of these things are really just access points…views if you will.Right now, each of course has different rules and restrictions…which bring up different advantages and disadvantages…But long term, I think they will all pretty much be ‘dumb’ terminals that more or less all offer the same features and options….at which point it all comes back to ‘better’, more useful web services and building things that solve real problems (problems that go beyond the things that happen when you are sitting at your computer).Anyway – just my 2 cents (but due to recession, now worth only 1 cent in most places).

      1. fredwilson

        not just access pointsalso sensors

        1. falicon

          I almost mentioned that as well because of the GPS type features…but I thought I would just be confusing my overall point (yes sometimes I intentionally leave out facts in order to make my arguments more compelling — you got me.) ;-D

  3. William Mougayar

    In 2001, after the dot com slowdown, the newest trend was “peer to peer” (P2P), but that didn’t happen very well for several reasons. It was driven by Napster and music sharing, but quickly was being extended to all kinds of other areas such as P2P commerce, P2P content, P2P in B2B, etc…The point is- in 2001 P2P never took off, because we saw it then as a P2P between PC’s, not smartphones and mobile. But today, much of what was being described then is happening now.Twitter is the ultimate P2P network, and mobile phones are at the edge of that network. Social is the fabric that ties the whole together. I think we’re still at the beginning of this shift, especially for “consuming” stuff.

    1. Mark Essel

      Just wanted to add p2p is usually associated with decentralized networks, which Twitter is not.

      1. William Mougayar

        Good point, but I was thinking of P2P in the business/application sense, not technical side, i.e. that it connects one-to-many, and many-to-one people, not computers.

    2. awaldstein

      What’s more important–the endpoint or the fabric?Sure they are part of a whole but the richness of the fabric for me at least is more driving than the end point itself.

      1. William Mougayar

        For me, it’s both. The lines are blurry. Is Twitter a journey or a destination? I think both. It’s an endless loop. You add to it and take from it.Confusing, isn’t it?

        1. awaldstein

          Inspiring as well 😉

        2. fredwilson

          is the web a journey or a destination?

          1. William Mougayar


      2. fredwilson


    3. RichardF

      This is where Skype should really be looking to innovate. The very worst thing that happened was for them to be bought by ebay. It completely stifled them.I think Skype have real potential to develop their social network now that they are free from ebay.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Why do I get the impression that your bio was recently updated…like within the past 24 hours.Playing to the audience, Richard?

        1. RichardF

          Yep, didn’t even know profiles existed until the Disqus makeover.I’d say playing with the community rather than to an audience. To me AVC is like walking into a bar full of regulars. Some days I’m up for the craic more than others.

          1. fredwilson

            a bar full of regulars that attracts the occasional interesting newcomeri’m particularly hopeful about that grimlock fellow

          2. RichardF

            I hope he stays around

  4. Tom Labus

    The first thing Egypt did was shut off access to communication to the outside world via Twitter. It seems almost pathetic since information flows like water and will seek its own level. Also, the damage is worse if it’s bottled up.I don’t know if the world will be a “better place” with “distributed systems” or we’ll be just more aware of how bizarre things are.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Twitter is great for finding interesting links or following celebs, but maybe not so much as a tool for fomenting revolutions. Andrew Sullivan got excited by all the English-language tweets coming out of Iran a couple of years ago, but last I checked, the government over there seems firmly ensconced.

      1. Tom Labus

        But some how these types of governments don’t see that about twitter content. They only fear losing control of their version of reality. The Soviets were terrified of fax machines.

      2. Tereza

        you’re talking about a different kind of revolution — i get it — but in fact i do think it’s possible.i’ve found many great women and they’ve found me via twitter (and tumblr) that never could have happened before.we didn’t know each other existed. now we share ideas, build on them, create things. we plan to meet on friday and saturday, people coming in from all over the’s changed both my perspective of the world (as in, i thought i was the only person that had the opinions i did; i learned we were a tribe in diaspora) — and changed the degree to which i’m known in the world.there may not be guns involved (thank goodness!) but i think that’s pretty revolutionary.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Sounds promising. Keep us apprised.

      3. JLM

        If you can call in an airstrike using Twitter then you can begin to foment a revolution. Surely there is an app for this? At least a couple of drones.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Drone technology combined with geolocation apps (Foursquare, Facebook Places, etc.) sounds more like a counter-revolutionary combination: a way for an authoritarian government to neuter the masses.

          1. JLM

            There is a very interesting article in the Wash Times today about battlefield apps for smartphones. Things like GPS, face recognition and finger prints.The Army is going to be issuing folks smartphones when they enlist. That will be a good excuse for a guy who goes AWOL — my phone was not charged up!I am sure that in much the same way that a HARM missile can ride a radar signal down to its origin point bringing with it a nice explosion, that the capabilities of geoloco apps can be harnessed to do the same thing.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            What is so cool about that is the fact they want the private side to think about helping the military upfront. I have had to put up with so much garbage from folks that sit on their ass and claim the Pentagon has everything already built and hidden.

    2. fredwilson

      Twitter clients are apparently working in egypt

      1. Guest

        I think as long as they are connected in a “user -> third-party service -> twitter api” fashion, government(s) would have a hard time blocking it. They’d have to block the individual third parties. Another win for APIs.That gives me an idea. Someone should do this with Google on a bunch of distributed computers, giving the Chinese free access. I’m sure Google would shut it down, but it’d be interesting 😉

  5. ShanaC

    while I think phones are very “connective” I think over time we will understand that this is the wrong tact to take…what if you could plug in a phone into a screen and a kinect? you’ve suddenly changed a lot about the interface and what one would do with the phone.I’m looking forward to a time where we reimagine the computer for what it is – ubiquitous

    1. CJ

      Already there. Motorola has a new phone that had a laptop dock and tv dock that boots an entirely different interface. The future is here.

      1. ShanaC

        I saw. I don’t think people realize how powerful a concept that idea is.My friend is working on a startup in ny that has just been getting mediaattention, called Neverware. I don’t have the heart to tell him that aslong as machines like that and the chromebook (cr-48) keeping pushingboundaries, what he is doing is sort of moot. Phones are cheap, and youcould outfit a lot of places short on money with the phones and a terminalhook in rather than doing mass emulations of windows

        1. Guest

          I don’t like Chromebook. I think Chrome OS is better suited for tablet computing. I feel like it’s a massive waste of hardware when it’s slapped onto a notebook (on hardware that could easily power my IDE / development environment). I’d probably feel the same way about iPad software being on a notebook… but when it’s in tablet form, it wins hands down.

          1. ShanaC

            It definitely can be pushed farther. Maybe sticking it on a tablet would help, or at least figuring out how to make it dual use (tablet/laptop) in both the ux and small formfactor would be extremely helpful.Other than that, I am very happy with the chromebook – except for the niggling issue that it needs more RAM (they underpowered the ram, something really essential in web browsing for non-text only sites)

    2. Anthony Ortenzi

      The question is why you think that your phone has anything that you need to plug it into something else for. If the data’s in the cloud, CPU on phones is relatively meager, hardware is cheap as hell, and networking is ubiquitous, I don’t really see what you gain from plugging the phone in.I suppose you could use it with NFC as your authentication/authorization mechanism, like the cards used by Sun back when they were going with the Sun Ray thin-client platform, but that would just make it a glorified smart card / RFID proximity card.

      1. ShanaC

        Different UX, a keyboard, a bigger screen for certain kinds of work.I think it is totally possible that phones could run a lot of serious applications, and really the big limit with them is screen size.EG: It would be a lot more effienct to program directly to the machine for the sake of emulation. You also can’t read that many lines of code, and I wouldn’t want to program via a touch screen at this point – you are faster and more accurate on a keyboard. I still think you could just plug the phone in somewhere and get a move on your work.I already see people carrying around Bluetooth tablet cases with a keyboard and a prop for essentially this reason.

  6. kidmercury

    it has the potential to be a revolution. but it’s not going to be one until people choose it. technology simply enables the choice, but it doesn’t make the choice.access issues (spectrum and DNS) and the fact that poverty/income inequality is increasing (and that the factors leading to income inequality are still in force and gaining power — witness soetoro’s recent appointments, immelt and daley), will be factors that limit a revolution until they are confronted. till then, it’s a bubble.we are defined by our choices. you can choose the bubble (ignorance) or you can choose the revolution (truth).ignorance is futile. only the truth can set us free.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

  7. Harry DeMott

    These new Disqus headlines are line Twitter – or facebook status updates – but only 80 characters at a time (at leas on my display). Pretty interesting.I love @Bryce’s comment – the fact that we can carry around a small device with so much power – all geared to connecting us in one way or another (whatever modality you choose) is amazing – but you need the network linkages to really make it all work.We were all born into a world where the linkages already existed in telephony – and mobile has just added to this ubiquity with all of the interconnects.But they don’t exist in every space yet.Seems like the USV investment mandate or philosophy is to invest in consumer facing networks that can reach mass scale – not bad!

    1. fredwilson


  8. MeanMisterMustard

    Fred, I hope you are right about the power of mobiles to lead to distributed systems. On your 01/16/11 post, I noted that people in the tech, VC, and entrepreneurship worlds really need to start thinking more deeply and broadly about politics and social themes. I am always disappointe by the myopia of people in these fields, especially as regards politics and social themes.I don’t claim to have answers for societies problems, but I do know that people in those aforementioned areas are in a great position to shake things up. When they just fall into line as ‘pro-business’ or ‘Libertarians’ (e.g. Peter Thiel), they not only preclude many possibilities for their work and society, they provide support for the worst parts of the welfare state. Basically, minor entitlements for the desperate are trivial compared to the destruction wrought, third-world dictator style, by the energy, defense, finance, and real estate industries and the ridiculous corporate laws that enshrine their power.People in tech/VC/entrepreneurship really ought to start thinking more radically about these issues. They have an opportunity, especially given the current tumult in the world, to at least provide a change of the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution. Start rubbing those brain cells together guys and shoot for bigger and better things than you have been.

    1. fredwilson

      totally agree

    2. Donna Brewington White

      …what he said.

  9. Gart

    Not either or, but both and, and, andThe problem with a phone is getting complex, nuanced stuff into it.Social networks are a marvelous source of relevant complex data about the character of relationships. When defined loosely to include my email list, my phone contact list and recent calls, texts, etc. social networks have a -tremendous- amount of knowledge of my actions, views, preferences.Families of phone apps with access to this stuff and a lot of brilliant UX design can distill these overlappy social networks to anticipate who or what I want to connect with, how, and what transaction or communication I’m pursuing, and make that option easy. None of this is conceptually new – there’s just more data for the AI, and there’s a more complete connection to the individual through an omnipresent device.The scary thing, the thing that holds back healthy decentralized progress, IS actually dominant networks that are jealous of this control. We saw it with Verizon and the Telcos keeping apps out as long as they possibly could. We see it now with Facebook blocking Twitter (and keeping their own APIs a jumbled mess for 3rd party apps). We see it with Apple nuking apps that compete with their platform or revenue lines.Because so much value is there, new companies will keep running at these barriers, (and sometimes getting crushed). I honestly have to wonder how much risk capital wouldn’t be at risk without these forces, and how many companies don’t get funded that would otherwise be.The cure for this is open standards and protocols. This topic – Mobile plus social – and the one preceding it – networks of social networks – are both places where enlightened grown ups in business and government can create huge open playing fields on which economies of entire nations are grown.

  10. markslater

    mobile. social, real for that.

    1. David Feldt

      Yes, mobile. social. real time … but don’t forget local.

      1. andyswan

        API! Cloud!

        1. David Feldt

          Now we’re getting somewhere 🙂 Let’s add platform and ecosystem.

    2. awaldstein

      + global and I buy in to that formula which really hasn’t changed in a bit just become more attainable.

    3. fredwilson


  11. William Mougayar

    The question is – Do we need / will we need 3 Devices? (for some even 4: Desktop, notebook, tablet, smartphone)Will the smart phone morph into a tablet? Will some tablets become totally smart phones? Can the notebook be even more portable? And what will be of the desktop?I’d like to have 2 devices only. 3-4 is too many for the long term.

    1. andyswan

      Good question. I’m thinking displays could be the next big shift. One “phone” that acts like any of the above when you want it to. Dock it into a tablet-like monitor….orEven better, enable it with a built-in HD projector good to up to 50 inches with Kinect v4.0 user motion/speech input….Your phone could even come with a semi-hard case that unfolded into a screen for your projections.I’ll dock it in my flying car, too!

      1. Anthony Ortenzi

        I want an e-ink display on the back of my mobile phone for when I shouldn’t need to burn battery life with an LCD/LED and a backlight. Clock, e-mail notification / snippet preview, etc.It’s frustrating to have the backlight go on as my battery’s dying just because I’m checking the time.Give me enough info to decide.

      2. fredwilson

        where did you get a flying car?i want one

        1. andyswan

          Free after your 9th pappy of the night.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      You’ll need 2, maybe 3 ‘devices.’ They’ll all be very lightweight. 🙂

    3. JLM

      Everything that is going on is convergence. Next will come brute force consolidation wherein the iPad will have to reach forward and reach back — more like a notebook and more like a phone.I was listening to a Brainiac who was just saying what was coming into his mind and he had some very interesting thoughts about how phones and VOIP were going to converge.He thought that you would shortly use your computer as a fixture and VOIP receiver. Already doing that.Your notebook would have the same capabilities. Already doing that.Your iPad would reach back to your computer and forward to your phone. Underway. He predicted the next hot thing for an iPad would be the ability to use it as a phone and simply have a Bluetooth device stuck in your ear.Your iPhone would be a provider of the same information as any of the above devices. Underway.

      1. William Mougayar

        From your words to God’s ears.

        1. JLM

          Not to get all gooey on you, but every once in a while I reflect that I wonder if God is happy with what He created.Inasmuch as He knows everything, when He made Adam He already knew about the iPad. I wonder if He approves of the iPad. Or is He troubled and offended by its awkward positioning between the laptop and the iPhone?I wonder if He was thinking — OK, Adam, one day in the future your descendants will be using an iPad to run your life.I worry that God may really like Android better than iOS and may get mad at us and just zap Apple?Sometimes I think too much. But, hey, it could be right!

    4. JLM

      I have an unquenchable thirst for gadgets. Of all kinds. I freely admit it.Yesterday I was in Minneapolis for a very easy day of talking to investors and had my full complement of iPhone and iPad and attendant battery charging devices. I was in hog heaven with the GPS and reading the e-mail and surfing the web.I should have charged it as a vacation day as I was having so damn much fun.

    5. susequinn

      The desktop will remain as a specialist item for spreadsheets and graphics designers.

    6. fredwilson

      there are two we will need, the phone and the TVnot sure about anything else

  12. andyswan

    Not a mobile genius? Feeling left out of the current revolution?Remember, during the gold rush, it was often the guys selling picks and shovels that made the real cash.Verify. Secure. Backup. Consolidate. Aggregate. Filter. Insure. Promote. Educate.There is a way to ride the skills you have in any tide.Win.

    1. fredwilson

      not a fan of the picks and shovels deals

      1. andyswan

        I wouldn’t be either as an investor.

  13. Michael Lisse

    In the category of “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” – those of us with young kids realize the depth of the way that mobile is ingrained in their lives. This group already believes mobile is fundamental, not because someone told them so, but because they use mobile functions in a way that makes sense to them, in a way that we over-35s can only marvel at. Makes me think the hype over mobile might be understated…

    1. Tereza

      i think the impact on moms is understated too.i see moms that — once they get it — go nuts.remember because most of the stuff was not developed for them, they have to figure out work-arounds to make it make sense for their lives.if more was built for them, their adoption rate would be faster.

      1. JLM

        I think there is a huge market out there for MOM apps. My wife, whenever she learns how to do something new on her Mac or her iPhone, is like an unleashed zealot not able to understand how the world survived without that app before.

  14. softwarecandy

    Paraphrasing @Bryce’s post: By their nature, these phones were born… mobile! That’s it.The mobile phone is not a social net, since the mobile phone is not even a net. The net is the people using the devices that allow them to connect. Mobile phones only added the mobility dimension, that’s it.And please remember that while mobile phones definitely have their pluses, their screens are too small to read comfortably and their touch-screen based keyboards can’t currently match the speed of touch typing on a tactile full-size keyboard.

    1. Tereza

      it’s not a net — it’s an extension of’s a YOU revolution.

      1. zackmansfield

        @tereza – I like this a lot…it’s a YOU revolution.It’s what hits home the most about @bryce’s post. I like the mobile to printing press analogy.the printing press didn’t create ideas. The ideas had been around forever. It allowed efficient, mass distribution of ideas.In this analogy, the web is obviously the most applicable to the press. It’s the ultimate scalable distribution platform that’s ever existed.And mobile is such a powerful extension of that network b/c it is attached to us at all times. When i leave my house I always take 3 things: phone, wallet, keys. Everywhere I go, everyday, always.It’s always on. Like the world. And thus it becomes a part of us to such an extent that when *we* care about things in this always on world, we use the tool to express ourselves, b/c we are social creatures.

        1. lawrence coburn

          And phone will replace wallet and keys.

          1. Tereza

            oooo that’s good!tru dat.

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        I like your posts Tereza. The mobile will be the real changer due to the female. Through the evolution of things where guys said, “Okay, we’ll allow women to do this…”, meant the female could be a part of things plus take care of everything else.The extension of yourself to anyone at anytime will deliver what is hoped for today via the encouragement of ladies to get involved in future developments.

  15. Question Assumptions

    I was an early cell phone user and the first person I knew in my city to own a PDA… loved the gadgets. But at this point in time… I don’t want a mobile device… I don’t use one. Nor my wife or several of our friends. Smart phones seem to DIS-connect people from their surroundings and from the people around them.In my teenage years, we could waste time with tv, atari, the phone in the kitchen with a cord long enough to reach into the pantry, and passing notes in study hall.Now as an adult I can fritter away even more time doing the same pointless stuff with smart phone as I drive/walk through my day-to-day life. Heaven forbid I actually talk to someone or engage my surroundings.I realize that it’s not kosher to question the baseline assumption of the tech blogosphere… but I couldn’t help myself.

    1. JLM

      I agree with you completely. The real question is how do you define a “friend”, not a FB friend but someone with whom you have a real relationship?I honestly believe that in your life you will only have 10 “real” friends.This is the dark side of the mirror for folks who busy themselves with drinking from the fire hose of life while missing that special little thimbleful of real relationship.The answer may be that we have to do a bit of both but receiving 250 e-mails a day makes it tough.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        That’s why you need an organizer that works for peanuts (conserve the blood and cabrito) sorting your messages for you ;D

    2. fredwilson

      that’s a lot of restraint

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I guess it depends to some extent on whether you use a smartphone as entertainment or as a management tool.I don’t take my smartphone for walks on the beach, but because of it, I actually have more time to walk on the beach.I think people who want to fritter or avoid engagement will find a way…one way or the other.However, in spite of this comment, I do understand your point…especially with regard to my two teens.

  16. Matt A. Myers

    Thanks for sharing that – it’s definitely worth its own post. I have someone new to follow on Twitter and Tumblr now too! 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      @bryce rocksand he has great shoes

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Fantastic. I may have a future second man crush. I can only be so lucky..

  17. Tereza

    Great comment by @Bryce.My view is — and i’ve studied communications systems and all this stuff for — omg — 20+ years now (please don’t tell) is indeed it’s a Gutenberg-level revolution. there are just some things it takes a little botox to see from end to end.Here’s my take.The phone and all the things it can do is now a natural extension of your body. Like a limb or an organ, a brain or mouth. It amplifies and accelerates everything you can say, what you remember, and the volumes of people you can reach.And it can do this at any moment in time.It is independent of place. And so if you have the free will to say it/do it/connect it/create it — you can do it right here, right now. No waiting to get back to your desk or lugging out your laptop.Want me to stop working? Take away my phone.That is revolutionary.Let’s explore the women’s angle for a moment here too. The decoupling of brains from desks = totally revolutionary for women.What more natural fit is there for a woman than a phone? We are marathon phone talkers and superconnectors. We *like* to stay on top of our to-do lists and get stuff done on-the-spot. We hate loose ends.For moms, the old work model of sitting at a desk in an office was a terrible fit for our we had to run our broader lives. It was too compartmentalized. So many smart brains ‘checked out’ of the work world.Moms are in constant motion getting everyone where they need to be and taken care of (that’s kids as well as elder care…which we’re about to be hit with a tidal wave of, and it’s gonna land on the women. we need apps for that, btw. different thesis.).Mobile allows us to express, interact, create, and just plain get-things-done at scale and speed from wherever I am, and multitask in the way that my life demands and the old-fashioned work/office model did not allow.anecdotally, this weekend i was running around doing my mom stuff (while working, always working) and bumped into 6 moms. asked each what kind of phone they have. every single one had an iphone. hmmm. none had many apps but they’re already saying they can’t live without the phone (and btw we have awful att service here). the apps they see + hear about don’t make a lot of sense to them.So — the next wave of mobile/social apps that think and connect the way we do?That’s a revolution that gets me very, very excited.

    1. fredwilson

      the iphone is the starbucks of phones. not the best but certainly everywhere

    2. Denim Smith

      Great comment. I would say instead of an extension of ‘our body’ what the mobile + cloud has done is maximized our individual and collective time and space (or reach). We’re doing way more in 24 hours from all places because of the mobile. But we need to PLEASE stop calling them phones – handheld computer, mobile computer, micro computer, or what it really is is THE first true personal computer. My PC at home is used by 2 people, my ‘phone’ is MY personal computer – which is just my direct access point into the cloud, networks, and my on-line identity. You don’t see many people ‘borrowing’ a friend’s ‘phone’ to send an ’email’….and I would venture a guess that everyone uses this device more for other functions than phone calls – measured by time spent and data usage. Its just weird to me. How about – MPC = Mobile Personal Computer // My Personal Computer?

      1. Tereza

        I’d love a different word from “phone”. Although I must say I’m not a big fan of TLAs (= three-letter acronyms).It should be a real-life word that mono- or duo-syllabic. Preferably a double-entendre.Maybe ‘mega’, short for megaphone and that amplifying effect.Or ‘brain’.Or how about: “organ”? LOL.But yes you’re right, indeed, the device is yours in the most personal way.And isn’t it always a little bit icky to touch someone else’s?

        1. Denim Smith

          Too funny, Tereza!! Well, I thought maybe Fred’s community would be the perfect group to start a crowdsourced movement to rename the cell/ smart/ mobile phone. That would be a nice little legacy to pile onto Fred’s selfless advice and teachings that promote best-in-class entrepreneurs – not to mention helping to create great companies that change our lives and the world we live in! Now, back to emailing from my phone and taking a conference call from my laptop.

  18. Dan Epstein

    I agree that the mobile phone is a large part of our expanding social nets, in part because the technology enables the expansion. We’ve got apps to microblog, share photos/videos/music, and to keep up with our networks of contacts (friends, coworkers, acquaintances) in ways that would’ve been impossible 5-10 years ago. As mobile tech and connectivity improves, our networks grow, and we become more social. For me, my mobile phone is now my primary tool for connection, whether that’s talking to coworkers, friends, and family, posting to networks, or seeing what’s new with my friends on networks.While I think social will continue to be a large part of mobile usage going forward, I think the next movement in mobile will be towards function. I think in the next 2-3 years we’ll see a big push for all kinds of functional apps. This has begun happening (i.e. the Paypal app, or the Remote Control app), but it hasn’t taken off the way social has. I expect we’ll see apps like the following in the next 2-3 years:NFC payment (using account of choice, bank, credit)NFC to follow on Twitter, Facebook…tickets for events, movies and concertsordering food in and out of restaurantsstart your carcontrol appliances at home (A/C, lights)unlock doors at home or workAnd I’m sure there’s a ton I’m missing. But that’s how mobile phones become a high tech Swiss Army Knife/Skeleton Key, which is what I expect and look forward to.

    1. JLM

      Brilliant comment. You are so right on everything. Everything. Well played.I think smartphones are going to get slimmer and bigger at the same time.

      1. Dan Epstein

        We’re definitely living in an exciting time.

    2. Roland Haddad

      Power to the phone! We love the new apps that sprout everyday for the mobiles because we are adding to its basic functionalities, ones we were excited about when they came out (camera, colored display, polyphonic ringtones!!). In the future, I’d love to get my hands on a phone like this one (http://www.pomegranatephone… probably do an espresso though

    3. techdom

      Agree with you but I’d appreciate it if smartphones were good for talking toooooo!

  19. ErikSchwartz

    Does disqus no longer auto update? Or is it just me? I no longer see the toggle for it.

    1. William Mougayar

      I miss that feature too. I hope they bring it back.

    2. joeagliozzo

      Disqus seems to be going through some unwelcome changes. About 2 weeks ago, they killed whatever was supporting my RSS feeds for comments by people I subscribe to (killed the subscription feature as well) and feed for replies to my own comments.

      1. obscurelyfamous

        Do you mean the items in your dashboard?

        1. joeagliozzo

          yes – it’s when “subscriptions” for other disqus users went away. I emailed support and was told it was gone but something similar would come back – never figured out what that was. My RSS feeds for my “subscriptions” died at about the same time.This was a nice feature because in my RSS reader I could see all new comments from anyone I subscribed to in one place (my reader). I miss it.

          1. obscurelyfamous

            The new dashboard is what you’re referring to with “a similar version would come back.” Your followed users’ activity are displayed there. Let me look into the RSS feed issue.

          2. joeagliozzo

            great thanks for explaining… huge Disqus fan btw.

          3. joeagliozzo

            Daniel I don’t know if you will see this or not, but – I “followed” you on disqus yesterday and my reader now picks up all your comments via RSS – but none of the other people I followed prior to Disqus re-design. I guess I will try to drop and re-follow the rest of the people I follow, but just wanted to let you know.

          4. obscurelyfamous

            That’s very weird. I’m going to look into that today.

  20. Tereza

    So I just heard this hysterical story from my partner — great demonstration of the new mobile world!There was an evening indoor soccer match at their school. All the parents were there.These days — school snow cancellations go out as an automated phone call to all your family’s registered phone. for example, in my family, we get calls to 5 phones, plus emails. It’s a barrage.Anyway, the kids were all playing soccer.Then ALL THE PHONES IN THE GYM ring at the same time.And all the kids interrupt their play, YAY!!! SNOW DAY TOMORROW!!!!!They all knew exactly what it was for.How funny is that.

    1. A3Munier

      quite funny indeed

    2. fredwilson

      what’s with the caps? trying to emulate the fakegrimlock?

      1. Tereza

        Actually feminist hulk 🙂

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Tereza

            Fake Grimlock, my dear, there is no doubt that you raise the bar.Especially for the two criteria “unexpected in a good way” and “just plain funny”.Wait….am I admitting to having a Comment Crush on Fake Grimlock?LOL. Probably yes.Keep ’em coming.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  21. JLM

    There is no doubt that the computer, laptop, tablets, smartphone, Internet, software and applications — plus the energy and genius to figure out how to wrap all of these things together and deliver them to a world “starving” for them — is collectively the Gutenberg press.At times we may be too close to the changes to see the enormous impact they are having. We are living our lives one six month period at a time because that is how fast things are changing.What we are also seeing is the CONVERGENCE of many different uses and capabilities at warp speed. With everything being COMPRESSED into the middle.The smartphone is becoming a computer and even the desktop is becoming a phone.In the end, the capabilities of computing, publishing, Internet information access, phone, GPS, PDA, camera, voice, video, multimedia and a million other things are converging and being compressed into the middle.All to serve people who are social by nature and thus able to organize themselves and the world into self pleasing social networks. All to allow people to develop and get where they want to be. And, hopefully, enrich their lives.I think an apt analogy is shoes. You have dress shoes, casual shoes, comfortable shoes, unbearable but stylish shoes, work boots, cowboy boots, goat ropers (if you have to ask…), snow country boots, wet weather shoes…..and then you have those comfortable old Trasks or Rockports — comfortable as hell, good enough to go out at night, great for a short walk and lasting forever. And you like them.We are all going to have the devices we are comfortable with and which serve our purposes and which work the easiest. And they, like shoes, are going to take us where we want to go.

    1. RichardF

      I had to ask google…..but my excuse is that I’m British

      1. JLM

        All Brits get a pass. Obama may like the French better but we still respect the Special Relationship.Next time you are in Texas, we will do some goat roping, slaughter the critter and eat a bit of cabrito.If you behave yourself, I will let you drink the warm blood and snack on the brains.This is what folks did to put lead in their pencil before Viagra.

        1. Tereza

          rotflcould i send my husband down there?

          1. JLM

            Hell, yes. Tell him to bring his hunting knife. Sharpen it first.But know there will be Senoritas in attendance and they like nothing better than a cowboy full of goat blood, cabrito and with just a bit of brains caught in his mustache.Oh, yeah, tell him to wear his goat ropers.

          2. Tereza

            while he’s not a gun guy, his knife skills are off the’ll have fun!

        2. RichardF

          jeeze… makes my offer of a bit of walked up pheasant shooting look a little tame

          1. JLM

            Here’s a good pheasant hunting story. It’s the mid-1970s and I am stationed in Korea in the 2nd Inf Div, 2d Engineers. Building fortifications up on the DMZ at every river crossing we suspect the NKs might press in the event of an attack. 24/7 hard cold work but professionally challenging. Lot of fun.Every river crossing is mined, so I have to get the mines out first and then design and build the fortifications. Never lose a man taking out all of those mines including some “bouncing” mines, very nasty stuff.I know the CG of the Div very, very well — my Dad was his Plt Sgt in the Korean War 20 years + earlier. He says my Dad saved his life, my Dad says who needs the paperwork.He invites me to go pheasant hunting. He has two fabulous dogs.We got to Cheju Island (Cheju Do in Korean) on the south end of Korea and there are no roads, just trails. We air lift over a couple of jeeps (hey, the guy is a 2-star Gen). Whole island is nothing but rice paddies. A bit lush almost subtropical.Native women pearl divers who I trade cases of C rations for pearls that my wife still has and wears to this day.We go out pheasant hunting with the dogs walking a trail between rice paddies as far as you can see with a bit of brush along the ditches. We walk about 200 yards from the hunting camp site.The dogs point. I throw a rock into the brush and out comes about 200 pheasant. That’s right 200 pheasant.The sky is dark with flying birds and both the Gen and I are ducking down thinking — incoming.Haha, the best pheasant hunting ever in my life.A couple of years later I am serving under this guy again and we go fishing on the East Coast in a little Boston Whaler out of sight of the coast off NJ and we run into a school of stripers and a school of bluefish taking as many as we can cast, catch and land.After that I am his hunting, fishing good luck charm.

          2. Tom Labus

            You should write a book.

        3. fredwilson

          what is cabrito?

          1. JLM

            Most people think of cabrito as simply being goat but really cabrito is goat which has not yet been weaned and has only lived on mother’s milk and not yet eaten grass.It is very, very sweet like veal.Older goat — mutton — is a bit gamey but cabrito particularly when mildly smoked and then finished is quite tasty.I think cabrito is also much leaner and has less cholesterol than beef.Real gourmets hang the goat while live by its heels from the branch of a tree, slit the throat and drink the blood while still warm.I think cabrito gets its reputation for enhancing male vigor from its use to hunt mountain lions.You take a young goat and tether it to a spot in an arroyo in W Tx downwind from the direction from where you think the lions will be coming — usually up hill.You smack the goat and it bleats drawing the lions looking for an appetizer. Because you are downwind, the lion cannot smell you.You wait with your rifle and a light on your head until you hear the lion — turn on your light and shoot the lion.The first time I did this, the lion had apparently not been fully briefed and when he appeared he was directly behind us.As they say, somebody shit in my pants and I want to know who it was!

          2. fredwilson

            i’d like to try the cabrito but not the goat and lion trick

    2. fredwilson

      i like to wear the same shoes every dayuntil the gotham gal makes me throw them out

      1. JLM

        But damn look where those particularly comfortable shoes have taken you, Fred.

  22. Michael Frischkorn

    Coincidence: referring to mashable facebooks CTO Bret Taylor yesterday said that one of the most interesting things to watch this year will be the convergence of mobile and social. “My sense is that mobile devices are inherently social… [mobile devices are] already filled with your contacts and your friends, and they also have access to your location,”

  23. Borisfowler

    Phones, today, are designed to keep us social and up to date on what is happening in the world even when we are on the go.”My phone can update Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, I can check the weather, read the news, do homework, and play games. Oh yea, I can make calls too!”

  24. Eric Leebow

    My hypothesis is that your social network revolves around 3 things.1. People you take photos with2. People you communicate with mobile3. People you have in email contactsMy thought is the people you take photos with is a stronger social connection than the mobile or the email contacts because sometimes you’ll email or call someone you do not have a connection with or never were with in real life. Your contacts could be virtual, yet a real connection in a photo means you’ve been close enough in real life to be in a photo with someone. People take you take photos with are likely to be friends or family, or you happened to be in the same location as they are. So, in a sense a photo is a location based network similar to that of a check in service.Also, your photos taken on your mobile phone are included in your social network as well.

    1. fredwilson

      i think there will be many more things that have the social attraction of photos. they just aren’t easy enough yet

    2. Sebastian Wain

      – Money? paying with your mobile phone. The social network is not just a relation between people but organization. Lending money. I don’t way to be in a sci-fi mood but how about tracking money flow and optimizing it? May be a better group buying can work in real time and in background instead of being actionable by the people.- Gaming. No doubt. Casual social games based on location, that will be funny. Imagine spontaneous games around locations. May be Apple is preparing something like the Kinect for mobiles.

  25. Kevin

    I help coach a HS hoops team. Earlier in the year we needed to notify all the kids of a change of practice time. I said to the captain that he should make sure to email everyone. He looked at me like I was nuts. He pointed out that the they only check email every few days, but that they text constantly and it’s instant.

    1. fredwilson

      team wide groupme group for the team asap

  26. Net Jacobsson

    Fred,When I was running mobile business at Facebook (when mobile was still a startup within a startup 😉 I always advocated the mobile platform as the location of the “real social graph” or to be more specific; the mobile phone book. After all, that is where you keep the number of people you are more or less in regular contact with and care about. There is no doubt that mobile is the platform of the future for social (and the internet in general). We as human beings are mobile, we move around all the time, mobility is our natural state. The desktop belongs to the old paradigm (closer to pen and paper mode).

    1. fredwilson

      why aren’t you running mobile at facebook anymore?

      1. Net Jacobsson

        Fred, that’s for a real in person conversation.

        1. fredwilson

          i know. but it was worth a try ;)i’d love to meet you at some point, with or without that conversation

  27. Martin Ramsin

    How right Brian Eno was about “More Africa in our computers”!”“What’s pissing me off is that it uses so little of my body. You’re just sitting there, and it’s quite boring. You’ve got this stupid little mouse that requires one hand, and your eyes. That’s it. What about the rest of you? No African would stand for a computer like that. It’s imprisoning.”

  28. Anthony Ortenzi

    The key aspect to mobile communication that’s fundamentally different from fixed-location communication isn’t so much the portability, but the fact that the endpoint is assigned to a person, which is enabled by the portability.Who under 30 even knows the terms person-to-person and station-to-station with reference to phone calls?It’s the same shift we saw in computing with the rise of laptops over desktops — desktops are often shared systems, whereas laptops tend to be personal.Where it succeeds is that “I’ll send this to Anthony” can be replaced by “I’ll send this to Anthony’s phone” and it’s functionally equivalent.As for distributed systems, I cringe at the choice of terms. What we see is a duality — device as portable dumb terminal, and device as a computing platform. The dumb terminal part fails when we lose connectivity, and the computing platform part fails when trying to have multitasking plus responsiveness plus battery life. Phones are primarily clients. If someone needs to interact with the data you manage on your phone, it’s not likely to be retrieved from your phone, but rather from the server where your phone (client) stored it. So technically, yes, you can call it part of a distributed system, but… what does that help you know or do?

  29. daveevans

    I was just checking out, no skin in the game but I thought people would want to check it out as it addresses a number of the points made in Fred’s post and the comments.

  30. Aa Bb


  31. Dave W Baldwin

    Something important…. privacy. The bigger return will happen for the tool that can fetch/send data pertaining to a particular person knowing what umbrella that person sits under.Then the fact whether that person is Fbook, Twitter, Disqus and so on will not matter. Otherwise, at that time Fbook will be offering different packages that essentially set you up with multiple compartments in your account.The fact that they should be able to do that sets the bar where someone should be reverse engineering. Racing through the tiers won’t cut it and the winner will be the one who can do the exponential.

  32. Emil

    I like the part “shift from centralized control to distributet systems”. Thats the revolution, not the devices. Revolutions are coming not with new tehnology but with new human behavior.Internet was all about information.Then came social networks. They are all about comunication. Soon we will be all gruped around friends nerworks, interests, location… Very good example what group action can do is Groupon. Just around simple prooduct or service. Imagine what group action can do to achive new law, new vision, political or social change…So the third and probably most meaningfull role of internet, after informing and conecting people, will be coordinating them into action. Groups are smarter then any individual inside them. The wisdom of crowds. The power and creativity of the group grows exponentialy with its size. Only if they are well coordinated. Only in the last few years, with the smartphones with gps and all other cababilities, combined with the new social aplications, coordinated meaningfull action become possible.The revolution will happend as soon as people realize how powerfull and creative they can be when they are grouped arround goal, change, idea, vision…Ofcourse they will need tools for grouping and coordinating for action. I hope my startup will be one of them…

  33. Joel Bouckaert

    Wow, there are some really odd comments here. To the point of the post: Mobile (smart) devices are certainly becoming the center of our ‘social net.’ Convenient, fast networks, massive storage capabilities, top of the line video and imaging capabilities, ‘on hand for the moment,’ … the list goes on and on. It is my view that we will see a continual expansion of this market, as smart phones eventually make the conventional ‘cell’ obsolete, with unheard of emerging technologies continually changing the way that we communicate and share.

  34. Guest

    facebook and twitter are so young, but they are already being disrupted. I observed my cousin’s(around 20 years old) behaviour with his cell phone. These are the activities he did with his cell phone, he visited facebook app the most to make updates and read the updates of his facebook friends, but when he wanted to search for something/anything, he went to google, but the most frequent activity he did was sending and receiving SMSes, he received as well as sent around 20 SMSes in that particular day that I observed him. I asked him if 20 was the normal number, he said 20 was a little below average.

    1. fredwilson

      way below averagemy 20 year old daughter probably sends and receives hundreds of shortmessages on her phone every day

  35. abhic

    I completely believe in this and the Mobile First development ethos.However, for startups who prefer developing in HTML5 for the Mobile Web (e.g. Quora), Mobile Safari and Webkit are seriously limited in their abilities to tap this potential. Developers are forced to choose to go native or approach this potential in a severely restrained way.

  36. Terry J. Leach

    Fred since the subject of smart phones and the social graph has been on your mind for days. Have you re-examine previous assumptions and investment strategies?

  37. Matt embodies this concept completely. It’s a p2p social network. Your contact list is actually maintained by your social graph. Pretty awesome stuff!

  38. Hatice Nur Koç

    “The author has no obligation to include every single fact about the country.” Actually what the author decides to include/not include has to do with what type of writer he is. When writing fiction, one could include anything, for example 🙂 … sikiş “A better idea is to create lots of new positive stories, to push the porno izle negative one down the page.” Sliding it under the rug adult izle has never been the right thing to do. Addressing the matter with everyone’s interest taken into account is the solution to this one 😉