What do you do if you're billed as a business professional's Facebook, and a substantial portion of your more than 19 million members are jet-setting business types with fancy mobile phones and jobs that lend themselves to schmoozing? You build a mobile Web site so they can invite contacts as they meet them or identify in real life those they already have.
That was the impetus behind LinkedIn's mobile beta. (That and the fact that all the other social networks have mobile Web sites, too.) It's a good move for the social network, whose CEO, Dan Nye, said in a statement that "many of these professionals are on the move, attending conferences, sales meetings, and client events. Making LinkedIn available on mobile devices responds to both these business realities and will be great for our users."
That may be true in the future, but LinkedIn's multilanguage beta WAP site, accessible from phones by visiting m.linkedin.com, has a long development road ahead if it's to be as useful to members as the main Web service. The stripped-down Web site offers a search bar, and the ability to view contacts, updates, and your own profile. You can invite other members from your phone, and change language settings, or offer device-specific feedback; you can also forward job postings to a friend. It won't be until future releases that you'll be able to answer a question, update your profile, accept or decline invitations, or reply to a job posting.
LinkedIn Mobile looks nice enough on the iPhone, for which it was optimized, but professionals with BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm devices will look forward to downloadable applications that will be able to integrate with phone's contact list and camera.
Engineering director Brandon Duncan confirmed that these versions are under consideration, and LinkedIn will decide which platforms they'll develop for based on user and market demands. In the meantime, LinkedIn members on the move can check their accounts or pick out contacts in a crowded room with a quick photo appraisal by visiting LinkedIn from their phones.