ME tries cashing in on 2.0

A couple of bits of news this week show that Middle East organizations aren't getting completely left behind on the web 2.0 wave, regardless of whether joe public has enough affordable bandwidth to keep up

Tags: CRMSocial networkingWeb 2.0
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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 15, 2008

A couple of bits of news this week show that Middle East organizations aren't getting completely left behind on the web 2.0 wave, regardless of whether joe public has enough affordable bandwidth to keep up.

In reverse order, LINK Development announced that it has released Facebook CRM. Essentially, its just an application integration between two systems, the Facebook platform and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, that will allow customers to communicate via Facebook with companies that use Dynamics.

While there is already some integration between Facebook and business applications, and Facebookhas been looking for ways to 'monetize' its audience, I'm not aware that any one else has done this (someone can no doubt prove me wrong!). If nothing else, its good to see a Middle East developer thinking about how to harness social networking in a meaningful, commercial way.

Secondly, Second Life. Specifically, Al Hathboor and Anantara announced they have formed a consultancy to help Middle East companies build a presence in, and get the most out of the virtual world Second Life.

I've played around with Second Life a bit,and I have to say, I don't get it at all. Poor bandwidth can be a turn-off for relatively simple things online, like watching videos, but trying to navigate around Second Life was slow and painful, and, I felt ultimately pointless. Maybe my thinking is too confined by too many hours spent in linear virtual worlds of video games, where the objectives are usually right in front of you, but Second Life just seemed like an exercise in aimless wandering, and waiting ages for unappealing content to load.

There are companies that have spent a lot to get into Second Life, IBM being one of the most notable tech companies, but I can't see that the engine gives a better experience for any of the supposed uses - retail, music, networking - they're all done better in existing online apps without the need to push them into a virtual world.

Again, Second Life has made quite a few changes recently, and is looking at how it makes money in future, but the idea of a consultancy for Second Life sounds all too Web 1.0 bubble to me. There may be benefits for technology companies to be there, and to network and experiment with these new environments and users - that's assuming that the Second Lifers are a community of cutting-edge, holistic innovators and not just cyber-sexing wierdos, but does that make it a valid commercial proposition for Middle East businesses?

And if you boil it down to the basics - there's one big difference between Facebook and Second Life - Facebook gets 132 million active users per month,  Second Life gets less than a million. Second Life might have an economy, but that doesn't make it the right place to spend money to advertise Middle East real estate or auto dealers.

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