Smiwle is an innovative mobile social network software developed for the Nokia's WidSets platform. Smiwle is part of the mobile social network project series by Amorg.
Smiwle offers a new and very human way of social networking. A user can make friends by taking photo of them. The uploaded photo provides a visual friendship, connecting those who are visible in it. The uploader makes relation requests, which the others can accept or reject. Users’ “cost” side consists of the usual registration process and a hobby: taking photos of friends and relatives. “Benefit” side includes collection of visual friends, huge who-is-who face and name data pool.
Smiwle is based on the new Widsets platform offering excellent portability. Structure of this image-connected social network is key enabler of an innovative relation-based business model with an extreme level of interaction and social penetration. Smiwle is a brand new product currently under beta testing. The network’s lifecycle and expected properties have been of key importance in the extensive mathematical simulations preceding actual system development. The ongoing changes and improvements in the Nokia Widsets platform itself provide vibrant developing environment. Beta test period ends in May, major product deployment is expected in 2008 Q3.
The social network
Social networks are often considered modern virtual communities with lots of members. However, we think them invisible ties holding society together, which has a much broader meaning. When it comes to designing and deploying these sorts of networks, one must remember to see the real-life people behind the maze of virtual personalities. This is how we began working on the Smiwle project.
Modern information technology and the incredible amount of information taught people to filter everything, and forget all that was found useless. One has to face the fact that information itself is not valuable: its context, availability and quality determine how we appreciate it. This is a complete renaissance of personal values, encouraging millions of people to share their thoughts and experiences through blogs, chatrooms and all the different types of social networks.
Smiwle is a promising market for advertising campaigns and customer feedback. Our innovation in this field includes spreading the interaction rewards, inspiring otherwise passive users to become active participants in their fields of interest.
When the Smiwle user community reaches the “critical mass” to become a lasting harbor of personal photo sharing, a limited number of commercial accounts can be sold for advertising purposes. These can be used to host specific ads or even whole campaigns, all built around the Smiwle Idea: every relation is represented by a photo. Some of it has already been used effectively, e.g. Fiat rewarded photos of its rare new model in a European ad campaign.
In Smiwle the advertiser would announce photo campaigns similar to that of Fiat. For example, a zoo creates a virtual Smiwle user for Nelly, the elephant. Then announces a Smiwle campaign: kids should take photos depicting themselves and Nelly in the same picture, upload these in the Smiwle network, and request confirmation from Nelly to become Smiwle friends. Nelly of course confirms these incoming connections, and rewards every one of her little friends with a generous discount coupon valid in the zoo’s sweet shop. This would increase the zoo-hype in town, and it can also be connected with the launch of a new ice cream brand. But Smiwle goes further.
Our innovation provides a solution to the advertisers’ common problem. It is well known that social penetration of advertising campaigns are relatively low, and even those few customers interacting with the company will hardly make it more profitable, because they are usually not the targeted ones. Those people already know all of the company and its products, and won’t increase sales, no matter how many campaigns they participate in.
The Smiwle Team is planning to include the network’s topology into its business model. We are ready to host non-aggressive, user-voluntary advertising campaigns in a way that inspires passive friends of the active participants to take their part. Let us get back to our sample campaign of the local zoo. Nelly the elephant rewards her new little friends with ice cream, but also rewards their friends, with something of smaller value. This has several advantages. If one gets a gift through his friend, it does good to their relation, bringing positive emotions towards the gift as well. Emotions are very precious for a serious advertiser. The second largest advantage of this system lies in penetration: through the “photo-friendships” the campaign can reach otherwise brand-inactive groups of people. This means that compared to the less-targeted group of N people, the campaign reaches theoretically N×M (where M is expected value of a user’s friends’ count, a value somewhere between 100 and 400).
Smiwle will also protect the users’ privacy, enabling them to filter incoming ads, and providing them with automatic message sorting to decrease the irritation caused. No personal data is given to any third party unless the user actively agrees to do so. Passive participants receive ads and discounts solely through the system (while being free to reject all of the unwanted messages), without being exposed to irresponsible marketing activities. The Smiwle reward system relies on the users’ voluntary act of participation, and also the companies being creative enough to make offers worth of interest.
The client software
Smiwle is a widget based on the Widsets platform. It can be deployed via the Widsets Java client, downloadable from the Widsets server (dev.widsets.com at the moment). While client-server communication the widget sends http post requests (using httpService feature) and receives http xml responses (parsed using Advanced Filters feature).
The design was created taking many aspects into consideration. Scalability (without image scaling capability) and overall layout on different screen sizes enforce simplicity on the software design. Most of the screens are typically list-like “long” screens (shells in Widsets terminology). We wanted to create a unique main screen design, which ruled out simply listing e.g. friends’ names as text. Instead two sizes have been defined for the user images and menu icons, and soft-coded horizontal scalability has been added.
How to try?
0. register and download DevWidsets client on your device: http://dev.widsets.com
1. install and start DevWidsets client
2. in the main screen (called “Dashboard”) select and enter the item “Library”
3. search for the word “Smiwle”, and add the latest Smiwle edition to your Dashboard
Registration and/or authentication
4. select and start Smiwle from the Dashboard of your DevWidsets client software
5. enter email@example.com/test1 or firstname.lastname@example.org/test2 as email/password in the login screen (or register if you wish)
Create new friendship
6. select take photo in the main screen of the Smiwle widget (after signing in)
7. take a common photo of yourself and someone else
8. add his/her name to the “who are visible?” list (search for Test or his/her real name or even send invitation to an existing email address)
9. save settings, upload photo
Browse your existing friends
10. select browse friends in the main screen of the Smiwle widget (after signing in)
11. view details of your friends
12. you can search for any user by entering part of his/her name
Browse pending photos
13. select pending photos in the main screen of the Smiwle widget (after signing in)
14. browse photos awaiting your response: for each photo, confirm or deny whether you are visible in it. If you confirm, the author of the photo (and others in the same photo) will become your “friends”, increasing the friend count always visible after your name.