Social networking gets mobile

Entrepreneurs have identified the new frontier for social networking – the mobile phone. The prize is the 3.3 billion mobile phone subscribers globally, a number that far exceeds the total of internet users, says the New York Times.

Fifty million phone owners – about 2.3% of the global market – already use their phones for networking activities, accessing chat services and multimedia file sharing, says market research company Informa Telecoms.

This number is expected to rise to at least 12.5% in the next five years.

Mobile networking companies believe the competitive advantage of phones over computers for community building is the ability to know where a mobile phone is, thanks to global positioning technology.

Amsterdam-based GyPSii, for instance, will show users where friends and other members are in real time, providing users a map of their environs dotted with photos, videos and information from other members.

Bliin, another network that started in Amsterdam, lets users update and post their whereabouts every 15 seconds.

Locally, Australian company Net Ventures, has built a mobile mashup application called Shout Out that allows mobile phone users to find out what their friends are doing, where they are located, and possibly meet up.

Established online community builders MySpace and Facebook, and online businesses AOL and Yahoo, also have plans to exploit the connectivity provided by the global mobile phone network.

Social networking was been a great earner for owners – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has just been anointed by Forbes the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at age 23.

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