Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Social Networking Goes Mobile

CIO Today writes a lengthy feature on social networking moving into the mobile space, such as MySpace's recent partnership with Cingular and MVNO Helio offering phones preloaded with MySpace features.

According to the article, Cingular "subscribers get short text messages when new comments or friend requests get posted to their MySpace profile. Helio phones include applications that make it easy for customers to view friends' profiles and post comments and photos onto MySpace."

The article cites data from M;Metrics which found that "33.2% of 18- to 24-year-old Americans post photos to Web sites via mobile phones," but "only 18.7% of these young adults play downloadable mobile games," according to IDC. Mark Donovan at M:Metrics said, "This suggests to me there's absolutely interest in participating in mobile social networks."

The article notes that the ubiquitous handset even more so than the PC is the key market drive for the alway connected target audience.

Jill Aldort at Yankee Group said, "Virtually every online social network application is going to have a mobile component over the next year or two."

And the network operators are eagerly licking their chop to get a piece of the ARPU action and drive data usage. Tole Hart at Gartner predicted that "within two years, at least 5% of all text messages sent through wireless networks may relate to social network interaction. Today, SMS is a $3 billion market in the U.S. The application could also encourage more users to buy unlimited data plans, allowing for mobile Web access."

Charles Golvin at Forrester Research opined, "I don't think there's a lot of opportunity for networks built entirely around a wireless persona. What's going to be much more successful are extensions of existing communities."