Social Communities Go Mobile: 50 million to Become 174 million

The rapid rise of online social communities and the companies behind them (such as MySpace and Facebook), has found a natural extension to the mobile phones. There are currently nearly 50 million members in "mobile social communities" and is expected to reach 174 million worldwide by 2011, according to ABI Research.  

Who are the leading players? 

Established players such as AirG, SMS.ac, and Jumbuck currently provide the technology and marketing behind leading mobile communities.

Frederick Ghahramani, co-founder and director of AirG, which has been powering social networking on mobile phones since 2000, told Metrics 2.0 in an earlier interview that the wireless social networking is becoming a mass market phenomenon and will soon rival the popularity of social networking on the Internet. 

How to monetize mobile social communities?

  • Mobile operators charge fee for the data usage that underpins all mobile community activities they carry, and in some cases from monthly subscription fees as well. 
  • Companies can sponsor special interest communities that relate directly to their brands or services. 
  • The self-profiling nature of these communities means that advertising can be targeted to specific niches with great accuracy. 
  • Many mobile communities also offer downloadable merchandise for sale β€” ringtones or images, for example.

"The rapid rise of online social communities β€” gathering places such as MySpace and Facebook β€” has done more than bring the β€˜pen pal' concept into the 21st century," says vice president of research Clint Wheelock. "It has created a new paradigm for personal networking. In a logical progression, many social communities are now based on the mobile phone and other portable wireless devices instead of (or as well as) the PC. Such mobile social communities extend the reach of electronic social interaction to millions of people who don't have regular or easy access to computers."

The ABI Research Brief "Mobile Social Communities" discusses the different types of mobile social community and the companies that power them, and presents detailed regional forecasts for their growth. 

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