Bubbly gives Twitter a voice

March 31, 2010, 9:29 pm by

Sorry to burst your bubble, Twitter, but Bubbly may be the next big social networking service.

What’s all the fizz about?

Bubbly is an up and coming social networking platform that mimics Twitter’s micro-blogging model with one major difference: instead of reading characters on a screen, users listen to voice messages on their phone.

While it hasn’t officially launched and has made zero marketing efforts, Bubbly has caused quite the splash in India, where Bollywood celebrities drew about 500,000 new users after they switched from tweeting to bubbling, according to an article on AdAge.

Initially, Bubbly plans to focus its launch in countries where people tend to be early adopters and heavy mobile users with less access to the Internet. India, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brazil are the first five Bubbly pioneers.

How it works:

With Bubbly, users can record up to 60 seconds of their voice for free. Followers then receive an SMS alert, and if they choose to listen to the message, they pay for airtime through their mobile carrier. Users can follow a friend, a celebrity, brands and even BBC News for voice message updates.

By partnering directly with the mobile carriers, users can track their Bubbly usage on their regular phone bill while Bubbly receives its share of the profits directly from the mobile operators.

Hello, can anybody hear me?

According to Tom Clayton, chief executive of Bubble Motion, a majority of Bubbly’s users are teens and tweens. On average, he says, only about half of a user’s followers listen to a message.

But Bubbly’s potential is huge: there are currently 4 billion mobile users compared to 1.7 billion web users. Bubble Motion is tapping into this large community by allowing mobile users to participate in otherwise web-exclusive activities. In addition, Bubbly does not pose a language or literacy barrier unlike its written counterpart, Twitter.

Celebrities like Bollywood’s Kareena Kapoor and Aamir Khan, feel voice bubbles have much more authenticity when it comes to connecting with fans. It also allows for quick promotional updates, like singing bits of a new song or saying hi from a movie set. The risk of advertisers piggybacking onto celebrities’ voice bubbles, however, does seem imminent.

While users may be more receptive to celebrity messages, brands will find it hard to convince consumers to listen to their advertisements – especially since Bubbly users must pay for this privilege. Marketers will have to get clever by creating exclusive Bubbly content and deals,  if they want to harness the power of yet another social network.

We have yet to see how Bubbly will affect the social networking terrain, but in the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on Bubbly.

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