In the early 1990s, the telcos were racing each other in building their proprietary networks. Metcalfe's Law and the power of networks was starting to be understood, and the quest to create the dominant network was on, with the "networks2 intelligence" positioned as the key differentiator. In France, we saw a version of this with the Minitel.
Then came the stupidest network of all: the Internet. All it knew was to push IP packets around. There was no intelligence built in to the network. The intelligence resided on the edge.
In Turkey last week, we saw the launch of two proprietary social networks by two of the three GSM operators. Turkcell created Turkcell-im Benim (translates to My Own Turkcell), and Avea came up with Patlican (a play on words, meaning both "eggplant", and "you will explode").
Turkey already enjoys a healthy set of social networking platform, ranging from Yonja (which started out as a Friendster look-alike) to Mondus (which we launched as a social utility/platform 3 months ago.) Here comes a telco powered platform. And by the way, you can really interact only with other customers of that GSM network. Quite a uniting characterstic, is it not? I really feel like I have a lot in common with other Avea customers.
The telcos should treat the independent social platforms as the stupid network, and try to bring their intelligence layer on top of those, instead of trying to build their intelligent networks.