Mobile Social Networking Has Not Yet Come of Age

Don't rely on mobile social networking as a clear path to increase revenue, at least for now, analysts who study the space say.

May 24, 2006

2 Min Read
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Don't rely on mobile social networking as a clear path to increase revenue, at least for now, an analysts firm said.

Social networking could easily become the next generation of a mobile community after peer-to-peer networking. But while the concept took off on the PC, vendors developing products for this market space have told Yankee Group they've discovered consumers eventually fall victim to "social networking fatigue."

Symptoms include disinterest in expanding the social network beyond existing information, and waning interest in viewing content. People are looking to connect in new ways with others they already know, as well as access to content they are already interested in. In a report released this week, Yankee Group said this trend holds true for both online and mobile environments.

Companies are attempting to deliver the service. Earlier this year, Helio partnered with MySpace to provide subscribers with an integrated mobile MySpace application. MVNO Helio, which targets young consumers, is betting mobile social networking will become "a killer app," Yankee Group said.

MySpace on Helio is the first full-service integrated mobile social networking client application, enabling MySpace.com users to stay connected to online networks through mail, bulletins, profiles, blogs and photo galleries directly from the handset.But short of extending full PC social networking to the handset, some applications pare down online functions to the core and bring over certain functions to mobile. The early mobile social networking applications that exist today limit functionality to basic text alerts when online profiles have been updated. Interfacing with the online client is nearly, if not completely, impossible," Yankee Group said.

And the service is not strong enough to warrant a monthly subscription fee. Yankee group said adding functions, such as photo uploading and chat would do the trick. Carriers will see some incremental data increase from these services, but it’s uncertain whether that will urge consumers to upgrade to a bigger bucket of data.

Integrating location-based services, super distribution, when subscribers recommend and share content with other subscribers, and gifting, the ability for one subscriber to purchase content from their handset and deliver over the network to another subscriber’s handset, will make mobile social networking more valuable than PC social networking, Yankee Group said.

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