A new feature from the LinkedIn iPhone app seemed a long time coming, but necessary nonetheless. Similar to the iPhone Bump application, bluetooth enabled mobile devices can now exchange contact information by holding their phones side by side. As Bump is one of the more popular apps on the iPhone platform, it’s no surprise that the professional social network LinkedIn has added similar functionality to its existing iPhone app.
LinkedIn’s new Bump-like feature can connect two iPhone users on the network by bumping their phones against each other. The act aims to mimic business card exchange, just without the physical (paper) business cards. Digitally exchanging information is faster, easier and a more organized way of keeping tabs on new acquaintances. The process also makes follow-up easier, as it minimizes the necessity of data entry, business card storage or anything of the sort.
Of course, LinkedIn’s focus on professional networking means that the form of digital contact information exchange is right up its alley, though the technique can be applied to a wide range of applications for various networking purposes. That means sites like Facebook and Twitter could offer similar features within their own apps, expanding on the ways in which information and other pieces of media can be shared across mobile apps.
The technique itself isn’t new–information can be shared between devices using bluethooth already. Incorporating the technique into familiar and widely used apps is the difference here, putting Bump into an interesting position. As with several other startups, the bulk of their product revolves around something that could easily be made a feature within another’s product. In this case, the standardization of bumping for the act of exchanging contact information is something that social networks coul establish, effectively wiping out much of Bump’s efforts towards gaining and retaining market share.
As VentureBeat mentions, Bump has already begun to expand on the types of things that can be exchanged between iPhone users with just the bump of two phones, even moving into the virtual goods space. The novelty around Bump still remains as a matter of proximity, introducing an obstacle when trying to portray the true value of what an app like Bump can do. For now, this proximity factor still limits the relevancy an app like Bump would need to grow to its full potential.
Yet the interest LinkedIn has shown in incorporating this type of functionality into its iPhone app further indicates the growing necessity for businesses to build out mobile apps to maintain their branding efforts. In order to keep their customer interest, brands must continue to find innovative ways of accessing those customers while also providing them a valuable service or product.
Given the success of mobile networks over the past year, along with the growth potential for mobile apps as more smart phones and manufacturers build out mobile app platforms, brands are more inclined to create such apps for the purposes mentioned above. As with the web’s de-fragmentation of content for a personalized experience of the web, so too will apps break up the functions of various web-based services in order to give consumers the a la carte options they demand. Mobile apps have a way of offering this level of customization, building on the established web presence many brands have spent the last few years building up.
Sounds like an excellent media relations story for DKC PR to pitch to the media on behalf of Linkedin as their PR agency.
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