Earlier this year I came across Thrutu from Metaswitch newtorks – an application development platform allowing carriers to leverage rich social features and provide them as services to customers. In short, this is the exact sort of solution wireless phone companies need to try to keep their customers engaged and more importantly paying them.
Of even greater importance for service providers is being able to ensure that the contact database doesn’t continue to get moved from the carrier cloud to the social cloud. By that I mean, consumers are relying more and more on Facebook and Twitter as their contact database making the carrier and the phones they sell less important.
Thrutu brings social features such as location, contact and photo sharing as well as prodding via a remote vibration (like Facebook’s poke) and more via an API which developers can use to do much more.
I saw a demo of it working on Android phones and was impressed and as of this moment the company has released an iPhone version as well. As you may have guessed, you will be better off using such a service on a network voice and data can be shared such as GSM or in an area where there is WiFi and 3G/cellular.
Of course the question you have to ask is whether it is too late for carriers to basically reinvent social networks which are already dominated by the web giants we all know (and many love). A positive sign for carriers is that Thrutu has been downloaded more that 250,000 times in the first four months of its release. Not too shabby. One imagines iPhone users are good for at least 250k-500k more downloads making the universe larger and the network effect even greater.