Bebo Launches Open Platform for Mobile Networking

When it comes to major social networks, open platforms seem par for the course. What we haven’t seen as a standard yet, is an open platform specifically for mobile developers. Bebo is announcing its platform called Bebo Open Mobile today, which consists of partnerships extended to most facets of the mobile industry. From mobile developers to operators and manufactures, Bebo is putting forth a concerted effort to promote, distribute and monetize mobile social media.

It’s an important move for Bebo to make, especially as mobile social networking is helping to drive overall use of mobile web access. While mobile Internet has yet to make up even half of the web usage on a global scale, it’s a growing area of interest for most parties involved.

I mentioned most of these parties in a post from last week that highlights the growing mobile social networking trend. Of all the factors contributing to this trend, social networks are one of the central influencers. As mobile devices improve usability and interfaces, it’s more viable to layer in dedicated social networking applications. And partnerships between social networks, manufacturers, software developers and operators are natural progressions for what we can expect from the future of mobile social networking.

As I think devices like laptops and cell phones will continue to merge in regards to functionality, it makes sense that mobile social networks would be so central to the ongoing changes. Bebo recognizes this and is offering a suite of tools just for the mobile industry. As far as distribution and monetization go, it’s yet another opportunity for Bebo to stake its claim and push growth. Third party developers may be quite interested in seeing what possibilities are available for a network within a network approach that’s specific to mobile, similar to what Zynga and SGN have done for the online gaming industry and what Buddy Media has done for the advertising and entertainment industries.

While there doesn’t appear to be a direct monetization option for these mobile apps, I wouldn’t put it past Bebo’s parent company AOL to offer such options to developers and other partners within the mobile industry. Having Userplane already under the AOL umbrella, as well as a new deal with Motionbox for video uploads within Bebo’s social network, the potential for creating an exchange market between end users and mobile partners is certainly an option for AOL in the case of Bebo Open Mobile.