Presence is the new dial tone they say. Without presence your solution isn’t worth much. Buddy lists are where the future is.
While I do have multiple accounts on different instant messaging system with their own presence system, I still find that the best solution is my trusted personal phonebook on my trusted personal mobile phone. And while Android does provide presence information for my contacts there, it isn’t a killer feature.
With Android, Google has it easy – you practically activate the phone by placing your Google account in it and “signing in”, which means they get precedence over the rest of the pack when it comes to joining “social” networks.
To access other services, such as Skype for instance, you need to download an application, then sign in to the service – too much work. Look at what some disruptive startup companies are doing these days: both Tango and Viber, who compete with Skype in the consumer VoIP domain, simply “ride” on top of the existing address book, sign you in automatically into the service and add your address book contacts as your “buddies” in the service – providing very limited presence capabilities.
Do they succeed?
Yes, so far.
In fact, Tango has already released some statistics about their service. They show a healthy growth in active users and the amount of minutes they served.
And what Tango is for video calling, Viber is for voice. You download it, and from that moment and on you can simply use their dialer to call anyone in your address book (instead of the native phone app). And if Viber is not available at the other end, they will simply do a regular cellular call.
The contacts on our mobile handsets are still the best buddy list in the world. We don’t have people there that we don’t really want – we don’t accept every “friend” in there just because it’s “not nice” to turn down a “friend invite”.
Is that going to be the main path forward from now on? Services that capitalize on the contacts information already available instead of signing in to other buddy lists? I’d say yes.