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Forecast: 82M Location-based Mobile Social Networkers by 2013

By Jason Ankeny

Location-based mobile social networking sites will top the 82 million subscriber mark by 2013 according to a new forecast released by market analysis firm ABI Research, which cites the availability of multimedia-centric GPS handsets as well as licensing agreements with carriers and handsets manufacturers as catalysts behind the growth. ABI anticipates mobile social networking will emerge as a key driver of location-based services uptake, promising a unifying framework for a number of mobile applications including friend finders, local search and geo-tagging.

ABI also notes the growth of location-enabled instant messaging applications such as Palringo Local and Nokia Chat. The study predicts that while a wide range of coexisting business models will initially drive location-based mobile social networking, advertising-based models will win out due by capitalizing on the possibilities of local search- and content-driven social context."While growth will be mainly driven by the availability of multimedia-centric GPS handsets, other mobile form factors will also become important", said ABI Research director Dominique Bonte in a prepared statement.

"Mobile Internet Devices with built-in GPS receivers have been announced, with location-based social networking site GyPSii supporting Moblin-based Intel Atom processor-powered MIDs. Connected PNDs and outdoor GPS solutions are other obvious candidates for location-based networking. Nissan Carwings' in-car telematics solution allows the sharing and ranking of fuel consumption in Japan." [ABI Research]

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