Yesterday’s post, SocialScope: for a Complete, But Managed, Twitter Experience, outlines why I have found SocialScope to be the most complete Twitter client on any platform offered to date. But it only runs on BlackBerry. Why? A recent interview with Ubiquitous Systems CEO Amit Kumar provided the answers.
As their initial goal the Ubiquitous team wanted to provide an application that was designed from the beginning as a mobile application. Amit described how they attempted to write an application for the iPhone but, as a result of their prototyping experience, they quickly turned to BlackBerry for one primary reason: background processing. Basically they needed an application that could continue to monitor and report Twitter feeds while using other applications on the platform. However, as they progressed Amit outlined how they uncovered additional advantages to supporting BlackBerry:
- Fundamentally full background processing changes the user experience, including how a user will interact with the application. Read your email, do some browsing, check the hockey, baseball and soccer scores; in the meantime all your Twitter and Facebook status messages, including those from makeitseven, are being pulled in for viewing the next time you switch back to SocialScope.
- BlackBerry is fundamentally a messaging device – combine a QWERTY keyboard with the vibrant half-VGA (480 x 320) display to provide a complete two way communications device.
- Immediacy: in their market research the Ubiquitous team found that users wanted no delays in getting to their Twitter messages – just switch to SocialScope and the most recent messages are there. No need to leave the application open to receive messages (as required for similar applications on the iPhone), no need to re-login. It’s just there when you want it. While the BlackBerry inherently provides “immediacy” the team also found they needed to address scaling and latency issues to ensure messages could be delivered as quickly as possible.
- Integration: SocialScope has been integrated with the BlackBerry Address book to allow instant viewing of Twitter messages from a contact’s page. There is additional integration with the BlackBerry browser and camera that allows the user to quickly post a Twitter and/or Facebook status update incorporating a URL or Twitpic picture.
- Compression: SocialScope uses compression algorithms to reduce the data transmission load by 20% to 30%.
- Battery Life: going forward their primary goal is to reduce battery drain using the recently released “push” API’s available for BlackBerry developers. Currently, when using SocialScope continuously, I do find I need to recharge my battery overnight.
In closing our interview Amit paid complements to the support received from the BlackBerry Developer program personnel as SocialScope development has evolved. This support has contributed to, amongst other results, the deeper integration referenced above.
Selecting BlackBerry as their platform of choice allowed the Ubiquitous team to deliver a unique and productive user experience which, in practice, allows one to both readily and completely manage our individual social media messaging activities.
Bottom Line: When following any conversation application that supports Instant Messaging services such as Twitter, Facebook or Skype (via iSkoot, for example):
- the most appropriate platform, from the “immediacy” perspective, is a wireless mobile device
- full support of background processing is a prerequisite in order to deliver a real time, “it’s just there”, user messaging experience.
- the client’s user interface on the device, such as SocialScope’s tabbed UI, is critical to an “always on”, “immediate” user experience
- deep integration with the device’s basic feature set delivers extra value
SocialScope provides an excellent demonstration of the value of managed “immediacy” when following your personal and business acquaintances in today’s “always on” world.
Question: will these messaging services eventually replace current SMS messaging services or simply contribute to a decline in the usage of SMS?
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