Hello hello James from mjelly here. Itmsy.com are the world’s leading “mobile-only” social network and they are our Mobile 2.0 Service of the Week. I have been a massive fan of the service since they launched and when I spoke to the Vince (the CEO) and Jukka (the CTO) earlier this week it became clear that itsmy.com are building something *really amazing* on the mobile internet.
Here’s the lowdown…
What is it?
itsmy.com is a social network and community site with the typical features such as profiles, forums, media-sharing and chat. However, from the start, itsmy has focused on entertainment elements such as video (personal TV channels) and providing content downloads (e.g. games, animations). Itsmy are a bit like the “MTV of Mobile” in this respect, rather than just a mobile chatting and social networking site. This is their way of differentiating the service from competitors we have previously covered on Mobile Industry Review such as Mocospace and the big mobile IM and chat aggregators like Nimbuzz, Heysan and ebuddy.
The site is ONLY available on mobile, there is no version of the site designed for PC use and users cannot access the mobile site except through their phone browser. The CEO Vince explained that this is because they want to really link itsmy with mobile and make it something special that you can only access through a particular device. Building just for mobile browsers also allows them to optimize the service for the mobile platform and identify users to create a safe and clean social environment.
Unlike a lot of mobile social services, itsmy is focused on the big Western markets and the majority of its users are from the US, UK and Europe. The service is localised for each country and uses additional location information to show people other users from their local area.
What itsmy have proven over the last two years is that there is a role for MOBILE-ONLY social services even as the likes of facebook, myspace and bebo roll out their own mobile extensions. They have over 2 million registered mobile users and 4.5 million user pages containing 10 million user-generated content items. The stats from a recent survey they did of their users are pretty interesting:
- 39% never used a PC-based online social network
- average of 25-35 messages a day sent
- most active users logging in 10 times per day to the mobile internet
- some users spending up to 2.5 hours per day browsing the internet on their mobile
The service was launched in 2006 by GoFresh, which is a privately held German company.
Why is it interesting?
I could wax lyrical about the stuff itsmy is doing all day, here’s a couple of things that make them a really interesting mobile 2.0 startup:
Itsmy data shows that we are entering a boom in mobile internet
Itsmy.com makes a lot of use of data and analytics which gives them some really useful information. For example they track page views and logins by customer and by operator which has shown that when an operator launches a flat-rate data package or data promotion there is an immediate uplift in usage from their customers. Itsmy have even noticed individual users using the service a lot initially then stopping (bill-shock!) then returning 6 months later and using the service more than before (once they have a cheap data package).
What this suggests is that there is a massive opportunity ahead on the mobile internet as more and more people get access to lower cost or flat rate data plans – we are only really at the beginning of the growth in mobile internet take-up and usage. Already itsmy.com are reporting really strong growth in 2009, which is really positive for the mobile industry.
Itsmy is pioneering new types of mobile advertising and marketing
Over the last couple of years there has been a big boom in mobile advertising as networks like admob have rolled out. Right from the start, itsmy have taken a really different approach to mobile advertising. Firstly, they have avoided using ad networks on a large scale across their site as they feel that the quality of advertisers (e.g. ringtone companies, gambling) is too low. In addition, CPC-based mobile advertising means that users leave the site whenever they click on an ad, which detracts from the stickiness of the service.
Instead of relying on third party ad networks, itsmy invested in building their own ad platform “itsmy.biz” which allows them to provide highly targeted advertising across their community, focusing on rich media ad formats (video, in-game advertising), virals, branded content and integrated sponsorship campaigns. As a result, itsmy.com can go direct to big brands like Reebok, Vodafone, Ford and Universal and offer them a really unique mobile advertising proposition. They have left a lot of money on the table over the last two years, by following this approach, particularly as there is a total ban on ringtone ads on the site, however, the benefits are now starting to come through as more advertisers sign up to work with them.
So good to see mobile startups like itsmy thinking of the long-term and having a lot of integrity – a real contrast to some of the big names of the mobile 1.0 world! That’s it for now. See you next week when we’ll be covering South Africa’s hottest mobile startup. ..