LG and GyPSii – another knock for operators

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Like it or not, mobile operators have been edged further out of the mobile social networking equation by the announcement that LG is going to embed the GyPSii location-enabled mobile digital lifestyle application on a range of devices.

Shane Lennon, senior vice president of marketing & product management at GyPSii, has softened the blow by saying: "GyPSii's unique global infrastructure allows us to not only attract and retain members but also drive additional revenues for mobile operators and other GyPSii partners."

However, Dan Harple, GyPSii's CEO, said at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona: "As demand grows for a smarter mobile and Internet connected world, we are focused on embedding GyPSii on as many devices as possible, where the actual user interface is owned entirely by the customer."

By implication, the operators will certainly gain revenue from bandwidth expended on the use of GyPSii, but they will lose out on sales or licensing of the app.

This challenge for the operators is compounded by the extent to which GyPSii is jumping into bed with other manufacturers. Not only did GyPSii tie up with LG at Barcelona, it also launched its GyPSii OpenExperience API (OEx), a white-label, customisable version of its service which will enable manufacturers to incorporate location-based social networking functionality.

"The launch of GyPSii OEx falls straight in line with our on-device business strategy," said Harple. "It already powers our own mobile social network and is currently in use by industry leaders Samsung, Navteq and Garmin to offer enhanced services to their customers."

Operators may be starting to twitch a little as they watch Palm allowing users to sync Facebook friends into their mobile contact books, and Garmin directs users to where their friends are right now. GyPSii and the manufacturers can only smile as industry leaders including Samsung and Garmin apply OEx to offer enhanced services directly to their customers.

The operators were also left a little further out in the cold when LG demonstrated Intrinsyc's Destinator on smartphones at MWC. Destinator integrates social networking services. LG will install it on models running Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile.

Mobile social networking is definitely where the action is, according to recent studies on two continents.

In London, comScore announced in January that 34% of mobile users in Western Europe ignore all mobile web content other than social networking sites. In the last year, mobile social networking grew by 152% to claim 12.1 million users in Western Europe.

And at MWC this month, Openwave Systems confirmed that social networking is by far the No.1 area of interest for North American users. Mobile web searches are dominated by requests for Facebook and MySpace.

The LG-GyPSii partnership will offer customers access to GyPSii's user-generated content sharing, friend finding and social networking application, with the ability to view it all on a map within a single, easy-to-navigate interface. The service will be provided in partnership with Intrinsyc, LG's navigation solution provider.

LG Electronics and GyPSii will share advertising and sponsorship revenues generated by users of GyPSii on the new LG devices, which will launch on the Windows Mobile operating system, then later on Android and Java-enabled devices.


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