Monday, May 12, 2008

Big growth predicted for Mobile Social Networking

eMarketer forecasts that mobile social networking will grow from 82 million users in 2007 to over 800 million worldwide by 2012. As you can see from the image below, the millions of subscribers are a small percentage seeing as we've already hit 3 billion subscribers globally. But the potential for growth is clear. And early findings suggest a strong customer demand for mobile social networks. This doesn't surprise me in the least as mobile is all about *communication* and *community* and social networks fulfil both those needs so tying in with mobile makes perfect sense.

As discussed at the recent Mobile Youth Workout, we already know that mobile social networking is driving data usage on mobile. Typically, Japanese youth are spending 2 hours a day on the mobile internet - largely for social networking (on sites like Mixi). And with the general growth of facebook, myspace, linkedin, twitter et al, including a big chunk of that on mobile, this growth doesn't seem far-fetched.

"For example, MySpace recorded over 7 million unique visitors to MySpace
Mobile in the US in the six months since launch. "It wasn't until we rolled out that we got a sense of how powerful demand was for MySpace on cell phones," Brandon Lucas, senior director of mobile business development for
MySpace, told eMarketer.

Facebook claimed 4 million unique registrations. Mobile-only social networking players such as airG, Mocospace, myGamma and all reported several million users soon after launch."

And there are more mobile socnets than that - Peperonity with over half a million home pages representing a fraction of its customer base, and Mxit immediately spring to mind, not to mention Cyworld (SK Telecom-owned and now available in the US as well as Asia) and Mobikade and Trutap in the UK.

If mobile social networking is your bag, or where you think your bag should be, then emarketer's new (paid for) report on the topic may well be worth a read.