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Mobile Reshapes Social Networking--and Vice Versa

  • Posted: Thursday, December 25, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Social Networking

By Jason Ankeny

The symbiotic relationship between social networking and mobile technology grew even deeper and more binding throughout 2008, to the point where it's increasingly difficult to determine where one begins and the other ends--record numbers of on-the-go consumers are updating their status, commenting on friends' pages and uploading photos from their mobile devices, in effect documenting life as it happens.

The volume of U.S. wireless subscribers who accessed social networks via mobile handset increased 182 percent between September 2007 and October 2008 according to a recent consumer study conducted by research firms The Kelsey Group and ConStat--in all, about 9.6 percent of U.S. subscribers ages 18 and over connected with a social network via mobile handset during the past year, compared to just 3.4 percent 12 months earlier.

A separate user study released this fall by market analysis firm ABI Research reports close to half of all social networking users have now visited destinations like MySpace and Facebook via mobile device. Forty-six percent of social network members have visited their favorite sites on their phones, with more than half of them checking for comments and messages from their friends--about 45 percent have also posted status updates.

ABI adds that among all mobile social networking users, nearly 70 percent have visited MySpace, with another 67 percent checking their Facebook accounts. No other social networking destination achieved 15 percent mobile adoption. ABI suggests that consumers do not wish to create new and separate social networking profiles for the mobile platform, but instead prefer to access their existing social networking accounts on the go.

Both Facebook and MySpace enjoyed banner years in mobile. In November, Facebook announced its mobile userbase has expanded from 5 million to 15 million since the beginning of 2008--writing on The Facebook Blog, mobile team engineer Wayne Chang adds that in the 24 hours after the site began allowing subscribers to comment on their friends' status updates via the Facebook mobile site, users posted close to a million status comments. No less impressive, MySpace announced that same month that its integrated mobile solution customized for device maker Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphones generated more than 400,000 downloads in its first seven days of release, an all-time high for both MySpace and RIM in terms of first-week downloads.

Perhaps most important, the success of the BlackBerry MySpace app underscores social networking's growing profile among enterprise users--for many smartphone-toting professionals, 2008 was the year they abandoned their Rolodexes in favor of making and nurturing their contacts via the virtual world. [FierceMobileContent]

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