A growing number of mobile phone subscribers worldwide are taking online social networking to the streets. The U.K. leads Europe in mobile social networking on a percentage basis — with the U.S. boasting comparable numbers. In the U.K., approximately 810,000 mobile subscribers, or 1.7% of all mobile subscribers in the country, visited social networking websites on their mobile phones in the first quarter of 2008. That reach percentage was twice as high as it was in other major European markets?though similar to the U.S., where 1.6% of all mobile subscribers (4.1 million in all) accessed social networks via their phones in December 2007.
In the U.S., MySpace.com, the leading social networking site among PC users is also the most popular mobile Internet social networking site. The site logged 2.8 million unique mobile users in December 2007. Also in December, Facebook, which has the second largest audience among social networking sites, had 1.8 million unique mobile users. In contrast, Facebook led mobile social networking sites in the U.K. with 557,000 unique mobile users per month in Q1 2008, while MySpace followed with 211,000 unique mobile users. While Facebook and MySpace.com were also among the top social networking sites in other European countries during the first quarter of 2008, MSN’s Windows Live Spaces led in Italy (154,000 unique mobile users per month) and France (106,000), and ranked second in Germany (45,000) behind MySpace, which boasted 52,000 unique mobile users per month. Social networking is already a global phenomenon, and going mobile is the next big thing. In the U.K and the U.S. already see millions of users of MySpace.com, Facebook and other social networks interacting with their virtual spaces while they’re on the go. Consumer demand for mobile social networking may be a significant driver of mobile service pricing models as evidenced by Vodafone UK’s recent move to offer unlimited Internet access as a standard feature of its new monthly mobile price plans.