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Intro to Mobile Social Network Communities

Mobile Social Networking is already an established service in some regions of the world, but in 2008 and beyond new features are attracting larger numbers of users and permitting new business opportunities.

Mobile Social Networking is now a global phenomenon with expansion in all directions. The following is a brief introduction to this worldwide phenomenon that takes mobile phone applications to the next level of engaging interactive communications.

Informa Telecoms & Media has published a ground breaking report entitled "Mobile Social Networking: Communities and Content on the Move." The research concludes that the number of mobile social networking users exceeded 50 million, approximately 2.3 percent of the global mobile user population on December 31 2007.

Some of these users were registered in multiple mobile communities, engaging with friends, having fun and sharing their passions with others. With only low investments from mobile network operators, the growth in users and community registrations will continue at a CAGR of 30-50 percent, depending on the type of community and the region.

By 2012, there will be between 12.5 percent penetration of mobile social networks among mobile users globally in the most conservative scenario, approximately 23 percent in the high growth scenario.

"Mobile Social Networking is approaching or has reached critical mass among mobile subscribers in South Korea and Japan," says Christine Perey, independent analyst, PEREY Research & Consulting, and author of the report.

"The U.S., the Nordic countries and Western Europe are experiencing high growth and other geographies are following. Much of the recent additions have been responses to new WAP-based services which offer engaging communities and exciting features with low obstacles to entry. Both off-deck and on-deck, the latest mobile community platforms are providing rich media experiences that users want on their mobile phone handsets."

In 2006, Mobile Social Networking revenues exceeded $1.5 billion and more than doubled in 2007. The revenue growth will accelerate in the next two years but after that point, much depends on mobile network operators policies and the interests of users.

I believe that this is a key point, since mobile operators in North America have a poor track record with value-added service (VAS) marketing, and thereby delayed the progress of local innovation -- when compared to the mobile phone service global leaders in South Korea and Japan.

By 2012 revenues generated from all business models in this industry is forecast to reach $28.9 billion in the most conservative scenario and $52 billion in the high growth scenario.

Over the next 24 months communities which foster friendships will continue strong growth in users and revenues. Entertainment community segment revenues will overtake in some regions in 2010.

Other community segments focusing on productivity, fame and social shopping are beginning to emerge on mobile phone platforms, diversifying the offers and attracting people of different socioeconomic and demographic profiles to Mobile Social Networking services.

It's my firm belief that just like the other digital media trends that have reshaped the global networked economy, advertiser spending will eventually follow consumers to these new interactive online mediums -- at the apparent expense of the traditional broadcast media.

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