Locative Lab

researching locative media

Mobile Social Networking Market: US Takes the Lead

Mobile Social Networking Market: US Takes the Lead

M:Metrics has posted a snapshot of the global mobile social networking market. Of note it is the US audience, which is traditionally hesitant to use the Web browser on their mobile handsets, that is the largest with 7.5 million or 3.5 percent of mobile subscribers accessing a social networking site with their mobile device during the month of June 2007. Italy, the UK, Spain, Germany and France follow the US in that order.

Also worth noting, the US and UK audiences were college-aged (18 – 24) whereas the consumers in the other countries were younger (13 – 18). Not surprisingly, the most popular sites accessed via mobile were MySpace and Facebook, followed by YouTube in the US and Meebo in the UK.

Although the numbers are small, M:Metrics senior analyst Mark Donovan believes this is a nascent market which will grow over time:

“Nearly every online social networking site has added the ability to connect to these communities with a mobile phone, allowing people to access profiles and share content while they’re on the go. With the mobile phone playing a central role in people’s social lives, it’s only natural that social networking sites are working to bridge the gap between the online and mobile worlds.”

There are considerable challenges presented by the mobile social networking market. At the Mobile User Experience conference in May, Al Russell, Head of Mobile Internet and Content Services at Vodafone, spoke about the challenges that his company faced in translating a community experience from a fixed, PC-based context to a mobile one. Paramount is that the mobile experience not be a ’scaled-down’ version of the PC-based experience. Understanding what the community wants to do in the mobile context and distilling the mobile-relevant elements is key. Unfortunately a user-centered perspective is frequently lacking in the mobile industry, but this is starting to change.

The opportunities presented by the mobile social networking are equally great. Most companies in the mobile value chain have focused revenue potential and rightly so. If mobile social networks can generate a regular audience anywhere near the size of its PC-based visitors, the revenue potential for all those involved would be considerable.


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Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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