aka-aki, the Berlin-based mobile social network, has launched its public beta for Germany and a localised English version of the service will launch “soon”. About 2,000 people in Berlin have been using the software during its private beta since since August 2007. The company previously raised a small seed round from FoundersLink.
With aka-aki you create a profile on the site and then download the java app to your phone. You can also create and join groups that say things about your life, job, etc. The app enables mobile networking via Bluetooth and there is control via privacy settings, such as transmiting that you are single only to other singles (yeah, right, because people will be so honest about that).
In the UK a number of startups are trying to crack this MoSoSo (mobile social software) nut such as Weglu, BuddyPing, TruTap, Next2Friends as well as Zyb and Eccosphere elsewhere. I could name more, there are loads, see here, here, and here.
Weglu is a promising new service I recently heard about which starts with your mobile phone address book and users can call, text or sending multimedia messages directly from the WeGlu app. It integrates with photos, sounds and videos on your mobile and provides a mobile marketing and advertising platform for brands.
However, as one VC recently told me, “anything which relies on a java download is going to have a tough time making it.” This is the eternal ‘chicken and egg’ problem with MoSo apps – until lots of people have the app, there’s no point in using it, but unless people use it there’s no point in loading it onto the phone. The key is either to create something which requires no download (ie. in the browser) or is already massively distributed via the handset or maybe the SIM card.