Today LinkedIn showed off a new beta WAP site that lets you perform some basic tasks related to your LinkedIn database of professional contacts. And when we say basic, we mean basic. You can't view your contacts' contact information, accept invitations, nor even update your own profile. LinkedIn Mobile has its work cut out for it if it intends to catch up to other social networking sites' mobile capabilities.As soon as I saw the announcement this morning, I grabbed my phone and signed into m.linkedin.com. I tested it on two different phones, just to see if there was any difference. Viewing in on a regular WAP browser is as simple as it gets. The iPhone-specific version was nearly identical, but was slightly more usable mostly due to the iPhone's touch interface.
At the top of the page is a search bar. Below that, a pull-down menu lets you narrow your search results by keyword, name, title, or company. Below those two items is a simple list of eight different actions you can take. They are: Search, Updates, Contacts, Profile, Invites, Settings, Feedback, Sign Out. Each function has a number corresponding to 0 through 7 on your phone's numeric keypad. You can use the keypad or d-pad to navigate to the action items.
Right now, all you can really do with LinkedIn Mobile is view what's already in your system. The Updates function lets you see who has recently updated their profiles. The Contacts function lets you view all your contacts in alphabetical order. Each contact displays their profile, but doesn't include current contact information. You can see everything they do and have done in the past, but not actually reach out to them and e-mail or call them. That seems to negate the point of having access to your contacts database, if you ask me.
Profile lets you view your own profile, but you can't change it or update it. The Invites section does let you invite others to connect to you via LinkedIn. This can be handy, especially if you're on the road with a fresh batch of business cards and want to add some of them to your database.
The Settings function only lets you choose to view the Web site in a different language. Right now, English, German, French, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish are supported. The Feedback function lets you send in feedback, presumably to LinkedIn, on your experience with the site. It asks you to list your device, and then has a text box for you to add your comments.
What's clearly missing is the interactivity that makes LinkedIn so useful. There's no way to view or answer questions that are sent in by your contacts. You also can't accept or decline invitations, or reply to job postings.
LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye said in a statement, "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."
Well, it will once they add more features in future releases of the mobile Web site. According to LinkedIn, it will provide only Web site access for now, but will have a downloadable application for business-oriented smartphones running the BlackBerry, Palm, and Windows Mobile platforms. This downloadable app can be integrated with your on-board contact database and even the camera for added functionality.
Over The Air looks forward to these developments and will report on them when they become available.