We just have to make sure that our partners and ourselves make money from it.

“If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised”.  Dorothy Parker

As I mentioned in my last post – Crowdsourcing or the art of Delegation, I’ve spent a great deal of time recently investigating our options with regard to mobile. One of the big challenges is all the people who collect along the way when you are taking payments or delivering a service on mobile, for those of you who can’t find the very tenuous connection to my opening quote, that’s where it is!
What can you do regarding mobile? Mobile payments in their current form are a disaster for all involved. The members get bombarded with who knows how many premium texts to pay for a month’s subscription. The operator and the acquirer take their piece, we give most of what’s left to the partners who brought in that member and we are left with less than price of a cappuccino at Starbucks for our troubles. So when I started approaching this, my first goal was to avoid paying the operators anything more than they should be getting, the cost of sending the text or connecting the call. After all it’s all they deserve in this process.
Just to produce a mobile version of the site isn’t that difficult, however to produce one where the members see the brand they signed up to is. Clients suck unless you have an iPhone, which (are you ready to hear this iPhone users) are still in the minority. Graphics have to be rendered for every conceivable resolution and size. On investigation this is a surmountable issue and I’ve found some very good vendors for this. Things we’d like to do on this are mobile chat – either sms or web browser based. On the functionality the networks still have a long way to go before the mobile web is an experience that is comparable to the wired web, they just don’t have the bandwidth in their networks. There is of course one thing they will never crack, the screen on a mobile is limited by the size of the inside pocket of a men’s blazer. The service will always be a stripped down version of the main site.
So do the web based users of dating websites want a mobile service? Our initial surveys seem to point us in the direction of a certain apathy amongst our members with regards to mobile. The mobile web is here to stay and growing every day, thanks to the new plethora of smart phones and the more powerful operating systems like Android, Symbian, Blackberry and what was that other one?? Oh yes the iPhone!! Is there a fundamental difference between the fixed line web users and the mobile web users? The short answer I think is yes. If yes is the answer then we need to be addressing this market.

How to convert mobile users?

This leads us to the problem of how to acquire these users who will embrace and love our mobile service. We could of course e-mail our current users and a sub set will sign up and some who haven’t paid on fixed line web will on mobile because they like it more. There are various marketing methods to bring in new mobile members; SMS campaigns, or WAP push and potentially banners in mobile web sites. The first two of these are fraught with danger as the regulators have clamped down heavily on these practices. If the owners of the numbers are not opted in to accept offers of this type the fines for marketing to them are very serious.
We will be producing a mobile version of the service soon, it will have a mobile web component and it will allow members to make payment on the mobile web and communicate with each other. How we market it outside of the current community remains to be seen, but you can be sure you will be the first to know when we’ve made a decision.