Sequoia Capital funded Bubble Motion, has launched a voice-based social  networking service called ‘Bubbly‘ built specifically for mobile users. With the service, users can record a voice message and send it to friends, family and fans.  Sounds like Kirusa’s Voice SMS launched way back in November 2008 on Vodafone? BubbleMotion had also launched voice SMS with Airtel in 2006. Apparently Bubby has already been rolled out with mobile operators in India and celebrities are voice blogging already. If any of you know which operator its been launched with, and how we can access the service in India, please leave a comment or mail us at diwaskar@medianama.com.

Like Twitter? Nah.

According to the company, ‘it’s like a voiced based Twitter – with the added emotion, feeling and authenticity of the spoken word’. We have not tried the service so we do not know how long the message lasts, but it just can’t be as quick as browsing text updates on Twitter, Facebook or the recently launched Buzz. We don’t think people will become fans of hundreds of others.

In just the first week of service, Bubbly claims to have registered 150,000 people recording and posting audio messages in India. The company adds that Bubbly is not just being used by fans to follow celebrities or individuals to keep in touch with their families but also by businesses to announce promotions. Would you sign up for listening to company promotions? What joy!

Simplicity, Privacy, SMS Updates

What might attract users is the simplicity of the process: existing BubbleTalk users do not have to subscribe again to Bubbly since it is just an extension of the older service. No set up is required to post messages or follow other users. All a user needs to record and post a voice blog, once signed in, of course, is to enter a short code – such as “*7” and start recording a message.

Privacy options in Bubbly include the ability to screen who can listen to a message and masking the actual phone number to prevent other followers from calling them directly. Whenever there is an audio update, users are notified through SMS.

Other communication applications Bubblemotion currently offers are BubbleTalk, a P2P international voice messaging service and BubbleCast, a content broadcasting service.

Pricing

The point of contention is how much will it cost a consumer: older voice SMS services charged Rs. 0.75 per minute. Traditional social networking sites do not charge a user on a per update basis, they are free besides data or SMS charges absorbed by the network operator or Internet Service Provider.

Comparison With Traditional Social Networking

Bubbly is just another avatar of social networking. Facebook , Orkut and the rest have done all that they can: they are available across platforms – from computers to mobile phones and even TV is catching on as a micro-blogging platform. Bubbly has taken up an obvious opportunity by offering this voice based social networking service on the mobile phone. What’s next? Someone else may think of a video based service, whenever 3G services launch.

Bubbly is totally mobile based and there it has an advantage in India which had 525.15 million mobile connections as of December 2009. As for telecom operators, they will just do about anything to prevent their ARPU from falling further.

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