I became interested in what was going on in the world of Mobile social networking after following Victora Shannon’s article last week in the New York Times Victoria Shannon, by the way, is a terrific Paris-based tech reporter who does lots of coverage for the Times’ International Herald Tribune. Recent usage statistics are phenomenal. According to the Times, industry sources say some 50 million people are using cell phones for social networking of some sort – be it chat services or media sharing. In five years time, that number will increase about 5 times. The concept of mobilized networking leverages much of the best about wireless technology, adapted for the purposes of growing connected communities of friends, colleagues, and family. The sky is the limit in terms of services and content potentialities.
From "presence" data showing where friends are at any moment to avatar-based chat communities based on texting, to rich media sharing, the mobile platform is adapting itself as a powerful catalyst for technological communitarians. And the global nature of audience development is equally exciting. Some of the early leaders are based in Asia, where Singapore-based BuzzCity’s mygamma can be found. Taking the idea of social networking to new, nuptial levels, users of the mygamma service can opt to get "married", and have messages from friends aggregated for the happy new couples in their mobile "living room", or communicate privately through messages sent within the couple’s "bedroom." There even is a "divorce" option if one’s mobile relationship turns sour.
The applications and services that are being deployed across these mobile social networks are just beginning to take-off, and it will be very interesting to see which will stick. I am watching in particular how Amsterdam’s GyPsii service, which just signed a deal with China Unicom to service the Beijing Summer Olympics will be used. But one thing is certain with an estimated 5X growth rate over 5 years, we can bet that whatever is produced either by or for mobile social networkers, they will be highly innovative.