I believe the next battle will involve improved audio capabilities as the world becomes ever mobile and on the go. Being able to communicate verbally on mobile devices hands free while driving or doing other things has become increasingly important.
In the past, there has been social networks based on audio communication (hence my term SocialAudio). The best of them all was a service called Utterz.com which came out before the age of the iPhone and smartphones hit its stride. They were smart by allowing their members to use any cell phone which then posted their audio files online so it was both a mobile and web social network. You could also listen to audio posts while driving hands free. You can also reply and cycle forward and backwards thru messages of those you were following and even from the public timeline. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they were never able to become as popular as Twitter or Facebook and vanished.
If Google integrates Google Plus with its Google Voice product then they could provide the most impressive SocialAudio network ever. Since they’ve already started integrating G+ with their other products, this is not that far fetched. Users would be able to communicate via audio in real-time or via recorded messages any time any place.
In the mean time, there are some other services that operate in the SocialAudio arena. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.
- Cinch.fm is the most well-known because it is backed by the folks from BlockTalkRadio. Google can look at their design for good ideas.
Update: Cinch has since gone belly up.
- AudioBoo is an excellent mobile app that lets members record audio messages and post them on its own network. You can also use its BooMail to post messages that way.
- Shoutomatic is similar to cinch in that its users can post audio messages and cross post to other networks. One of its most popular users is Clayton Morris from Fox news.
- SoundCloud is different than these others because it isn’t actually designed to be a communication network but it is a social network where members share audio files, usually music but it also includes many other forms of sound. Many share their podcasts or just record audio messages. I can see them adding features that make it more of a SocialAudio network very easily.
- Blip.Me is a mobile app with a sweet design. (Added 6/27/2013)
- EevzDrop is another audio mobile app.
Here’s a video demo he did about Shoutomatic.
Here’s a demo of AudioBoo