numerous startups looking to become the number one social network for mobile devices, it's becoming apparent that mobile social networking isn't necessarily going to be the new frontier that everyone thought it would be. Instead, as consumers surf the "real internet" on their mobile devices, they're also interacting with "real" social networks like MySpace and Facebook. Could it be that consumers don't want new and separate social networks just for the mobile phone?MySpace and Facebook, as it turns out. Despite the land grab by
According to new data released on Monday from ABI Research, nearly half of social networking users (46%) have visited a social network on a mobile device. Out of those users, 70% have visited MySpace and 67% have visited Facebook. No other social network, including those specialized for mobile devices, even reached 15% adoption. Based on these numbers, ABI Research concludes that consumers do not want new social networks for mobile phones - they just want to interact with the social networks where they're already members.
This is further supported by data about what consumers do when mobile social networking. Checking for both comments and messages from their friends register above 50% for mobile social network users and 45% of users post status updates. In other words, they're doing the same sort of things on their phone as they would do if at their computer. The phone is just an extension of their online social networking life, not a separate and different platform for new types of interactions.
The survey, which was conducted 2Q, 2008, interviewed 500 users of online social networks. Out of those users, only 1% had visited a social network on their phone only. A mobile social network, for example, would be phone-only. Yikes. That number is low.
So Where Does This Leave Mobile Social Networks?
At first glance, we have to admit, these numbers don't look promising for mobile social networks. Although it's possible that some of these social networks will stick around thanks to strong and supportive niche audiences, it doesn't look like any today are poised for mainstream success.
Then again, it could just be too soon to tell. Given how long it takes for mainstream users to discover any new technology, it may be just a matter of time before mobile social networking really takes off. With the recent explosion of new touchscreen smart phones (iPhone, Android, , HTC Dream, Instinct, LG Dare, etc.) designed with web surfing in mind, mobile social networking could still be right around the corner.
It all comes down to whether or not consumers are ever going to really be interested in the features that are unique to mobile social networks such as geolocating your friends or finding other users near you. Will these features alone be enough of a draw for users to adopt a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) social network just for when they're on the go? Even if that occurred and a mobile social network began to pick up some steam, all MySpace or Facebook would have to do to compete is add geolocation to their mobile app to once again reign supreme. And we're beginning to think that's a far more likely scenario.