MGC: Trip Hawkins: Mobile Phones are Social Computers
Will mobile networks replace the internet as the social networking medium of choice?
(Mobile Games Conference coverage sponsored by Glu Mobile)
Former Electronic Arts founder and current Digital Chocolate CEO Trip Hawkins took his Mobile Games Conference keynote address in an unexpected direction today by focusing the majority of his speech around the ever-growing importance that community is playing in mobile gaming, and in the rest of the mobile industry.
"We're entering the era of the social computer," Hawkins said. "I believe phones are actually a greater way to connect individuals socially than PCs thanks to their ubiquity, their integrated billing, and the general rise of the mobile lifestyle."
Putting his money where his mouth is, Hawkins outlined Digital Chocolate's two major "social games" slated for a 2006 release: MLSN (Mobile League Sports Network) Sports, and The Hook Up: AvaFlirting.
MLSN allows sports fans to make picks for the week then see how they performed against others when the games have been played, join leagues, trash talk via voice or text messaging, and more. The Hook Up appeals to a considerably different (although no less potent) demographic: younger girls (and the boys that will follow them). Players can create and dress up an avatar according to their taste, and avatars can become friends and eventually "date." Real life relationships can eventually be formed out of meetings made initially within the game.
"The fact is mobile social apps apps are going to be a big deal," Hawkins said. "A good analogy is comparing the mobile experience to McDonalds and Starbucks. Buying apps now is like McDonalds. You want to get in and out as fast as possible. You want to pay your money, get your product, and then be on your way. Starbucks on the other hand was successful by allowing consumers to specialize their order according to their own unique tastes. And you might want to stay around and socialize, to boot. Just like mobile social applications."