Viral Marketing in mobile

Last week I received an e-mail from Michael of Mocondi that forwarded me an update about the status of their service. I can’t say I have known Michael for a long time, in fact I have never met him, but since the news is about mobile, it got me thinking.

The information is about their product called MeYou that, from what I understood, is a program in which you can buy mobile content and services and you can suggest the same contents to your friends in your network. When you suggest something or perform other actions you earn points. This is nothing new, of course. According to their numbers, their service is very successful especially in Italy (not a surprise, again, as Italians buy a lot of ringtones and contents in general).

What really got me thinking, was actually how they created the service. Reading from the website the service is available in Italy only to customers of 3 and Vodafone (I’m a TIM customer), users should download a Java application to get started. Users can browse a selection of contents available for their device and then can purchase. Billing happens via the operator.

The numbers that Mocondi reports are good, such as 1.6M recommendations sent and 24% subsequent purchases. What I just don’t understand is why you need the hassle of a Java application. It’s hard to download and sometimes will fail to install. You use it to browse and send messages to your network of friends. I suppose you will also be able to manage your network.
When I think about this application, I think the browser would be the perfect fit. Browsing is just what it’s made for, for a start! Managing your network is something you could do via specific pages. Messaging… Well, you have SMS and MMS and if Mocondi already has agreements with mobile operators I do not see problems delivering messages and tracking users. Settings should already be in place so no problems installing the application or downloading the catalogs. Also, I suppose that users will not get notifications if they do not start the application while with SMS and MMS you get them in any case and the browser can be started automatically (read wappush).

I really think that mobile devices are the perfect target for viral marketing and I like the idea. I just think that the browser would have been a better choice. Do you read me Mocondi? Check out Refresh Mobile or Flirtomatic and how they left the Java platform for the browser. There are things that are better in Java (games, etc) and other things that are better in a browser.