Spring has come to Riga, so perhaps it's OK to air some strange ideas. These are addressed to Lauris Liberts, the godfather of draugiem.lv (the Latvian Friendster) and Jesper Eriksen of Bite GSM (the winner of the Latvian third GSM/UMTS licence).
Lauri (now I'm mixing in the Latvian declination to address someone :)), you've basically signed up the entire Latvian young middle class and those who soon will be. Around 255 000 of them, more than 10 % of the whole f**king population of Latvia (2.3 million)! No other quasi-medium has that kind of audience, attention platform, call it what you will. And these people want to communicate with each other. That's the whole draugiem.lv point, it would seem, at least for the young singles and even those in relationships simply widening their networks.
A logical extension of draugiem.lv would be draugiem (draugu karte?), the mobile phone card. It could come with some free SMS and MMS, easy payment from the balance for all the draugiem.lv micropayments (starting your photo album, other stuff).
For Jesper, the draugiem card would be one way to get a fast-track start on selling capacity on the new Bite Latvia or whatever it will be called network. Bite GSM declared that its approach in Latvia would be to sell an open network, so the more virtual operators, the better.
I think, quite frankly, the thing would fly. My sources tell me that when Telia MultiCom -- which has nothing to do with Telia any longer -- advertised in a small banner on draugiem.lv for its new cheaper and faster broadband internet, the response crashed Telia MultiCom's server. With more and more workplaces restricting draugiem (it has become the default desktop for some users :) ), there is an incentive to have access, preferably broadband, at home. Once you have that, it is a short step to all those draugiem friends Skyping each other (unless you, Lauri, come up with a tweak of Skype just for draugiem, maybe an IP push-to-talk thing the way you can now click on a name to send an e-mail. There would have to be consent for getting these calls, though). At the end of the day (literally), you might even crash those Lattelekom servers hosting you and when you have 300 000 mobile pre-paid and IP voice customers on the system, Lattelekom may 1) regret the day they let you in or 2) buy you out :).
Another idea, Jesper, is to sell your entry-level, low-end services through draugiem.lv and see what happens. Not a bad association to have.
I hope nothing happens to dampen the enthusiasm for draugiem.lv over the summer, because the new Bite Latvia or whatever won't be up and running until the fall at the earliest.
In the tradition of Wired magazine when my old college friend Louis Rossetto was still running it, I will list the music I was listening to on my earphones from iTunes while writing this (mind you, I rarely do this).
The Music Behind this Post:
Neil Young, Rocking the Free World, Jimi Hendrix, Machine Gun, The Eagles, Take It Easy, Simon & Garfunkel, America, The Standells, Dirty Water (OK, I grew near Boston :)), The Mamas & Pappas, California Dreamin', Golden Earring, Radar Love, The Grateful Dead, Truckin' and Sugar Magnolia (while revising some errors).