Quick Thoughts on Instant Messaging for Social Networks – imo.im and social.im

A GSB classmate of mine and fellow ex-Googler of mine is one of the co-founders of Mogad, the team behind social.im. I’ve been playing with the tool a bit for the last week or so and it’s fun. Just some random thoughts about the whole space.

1. I have a lot of friends on Facebook who are not on my IM buddy list. In fact, I have no idea what service they’re on.
I think most communication media are all about context – there are some people with whom I prefer to communicate via email, others via phone, and others strictly via IM. I think that’s the reason why Facebook messaging is popular even though many people have their email addresses prominently displayed on their profiles. In the context of how I know many people on Facebook, sending them a message through the system is probably the most appropriate way to reach them. As social networks continue to evolve into the place where you both make and maintain friends, it’s only natural to see our communication tools evolve in parallel. As is the case in the world pre-Facebook, I don’t necessarily want everyone I know on my IM buddy list.

2. None of the social networks have really launched a great desktop IM application. I remember when MySpace launched IM and the product was not that compelling. I can’t remember any other social network of scale launching its own standalone IM client. Arguments about downloadable clients aside, I wonder if there aren’t other reasons none of the other major social networks has launched an IM client of its own.

3. I’m surprised that one of the multi-headed IM client guys haven’t done the same thing. When I first saw social.im, my immediate thought was that was something I would have expected the Meebo or Trillian guys to do – create some nifty FB app that would allow you to pull your Facebook friends into your existing cross-network IM experience. Perhaps they have something similar in the works – it would be a good way to at least continue to seed / grow a user’s IM network. Those guys are already in the business of bridging networks so sucking down your FB friends seems like a logical next step.

On that same note, I’m not surprised that none of the major networks has launched such a product. The real value in something such as social.im or imo.im is that it’s IM network agnostic – I don’t need to have my friends self-identify as users of a given service. All I need to know is that they’re on Facebook.