I was involved in a rather weird, slightly embarrassing social incident the other day. After randomly bumping into an old acquaintance, I enquired as to how their holiday had been? When they asked 'how did you know I'd been on holiday?', I began shuffling nervously before responding with the indignant 'erm, I saw it on Twitter'.Awkward social encounters apart, Twitter has joined the likes of Facebook, MySpace and Bebo to name but three in the social networking domain. In fact, so big is this virtual phenomenon that I bet the majority of you act dumbfounded when someone informs you that they don't have a Facebook account, or thinks MySpace is some sort of flat share scheme.
Of course social networking is nothing new on your computer, but in the last year or so we've seen an influx of phones that are solely based around these sites. This is evidence in that we introduced the Best Social Networking category at our recent Mobile Choice Consumer Awards.
It could be argued that 3 has been one of the pioneers of social networking, having bagged itself the original "Facebook" phone, the INQ1, a partnership that has continued with the follow up, the INQ Mini 3G. In the last fortnight the operator has been further developing their social networking credentials by first claiming exclusivity to the Sony Ericsson T715 that comes complete with integrated Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and then following that up with a much larger more ripple causing announcement.
While Spotify is on the fringes, the fact that you can create and share playlists with other users just about scrapes it into the social networking category and 3's new Spotify Mobile tariff is immensely appealing. Not only do you get an HTC Hero - incidentally our Phone of the Year - but you will also get unlimited access to the music service for the duration of your contract (two years).
While most of us would still rather meet up for a quick coffee or a pint down the pub, whether we like it or not social networking seems here to stay and with more and more of us checking our Facebook/Twitter accounts umpteen times a day, what better way to help us stay in touch than integrate them into our phones, something we have with us at all times. The social networking phone may still be in a niche of its own, but we think before long it will be as standard as a camera or built-in music player is now.
Do you use your phone to update your status, poke a friend or Tweet your whereabouts? Would you buy a phone solely on its social networking credentials? Let us know.
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