Quick, what's the third largest social network (after Facebook and MySpace) in the world based on traffic?
According to both Comscore and Alexa, it's Hi5, which has 80 million members. Although it's based in San Francisco, less than 7% of Hi5's traffic comes from the US. Available in 37 languages and dialects, it's the leading network with Spanish speaking users worldwide and is hugely popular in South America, Africa and Thailand. Hi5 is also one of the fastest growing large social networks. Comscore reported that its traffic doubled during the 12 month period ending June 2008.
Hi5 is an "open" social network; profiles are public by default and anyone, including non-members, can search for users and view their profiles. The features of Hi5 seem to be a mishmash of those of the market leading networks. The default open access and highly customizable profiles remind me of Myspace; Hi5's school groups and the "degrees of separation" friend model are similar to FaceBook. Most of the standard trappings of current online social networks are present; groups, messaging, photo albums, a music player, applications and scrapbooks. Notably absent is any sort of integrated video player.
Hi5 was late to the mobile space with m.hi5.com arriving in August of this year. The mobile feature set is a useful subset of the Hi5 feature set. You can view profiles, view friend's statuses and change your own, comment on your friends' profiles and photos, see if friends are online and send and receive messages. Missing on mobile are photo uploading, editing your profile, changing privacy settings, applications, groups and viewing or writing in scrapbooks.
The mobile site uses small page and image sizes and a simple straightforward design that should work on almost all phones. Due to the site's simplicity, navigation is easy and intuitive. The lack of access key accelerators makes click paths longer than necessary, however.
Reflecting Hi5's global user base, the mobile site is available in the same 37 languages as the main site. Unlike MySpace and Facebook, it's possible for new users to register using Hi5's mobile site. The ability to sign up without a PC is particularly important in the developing world where many users' only Internet access is through their phones.
Ratings: Content: Usability:
Mobile Link: m.hi5.com>
Ready.mobi score: 4 (Good)