Emerging markets are killing when it comes to mobile social networks

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Instagram’s a pretty big mobile social network. A user base now sitting somewhere north of the 30-million mark is nothing to be sneezed at. Thing is, big as Instagram is it’s nowhere near the biggest.

In fact, emerging markets are killing when it comes to mobile social networks. Around half of the world’s top ten mobile social networks don’t have developed countries as their home bases.

That’s according to social media consultant Tomi Ahonen who has compiled a “preliminary” list of the largest mobile social networks by user number.

Given that it is the world’s largest social network, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Facebook takes up to top spot. The next three spots, however, are all taken up by social networks with China as their home base.

Tencent’s Mobile QQ — in which South African-based internet giant Naspers has a stake — is second place. With 200-million users it does lag some distance behind Facebook Mobile’s 450-million users.

Naspers also once held a stake in MXit, the ninth most popular mobile social network on earth. The predominantly youth-based social chat service is now owned by investment company World of Avatar and headed by VC and entrepreneur Alan Knott Craig Jr.

One social app noticeably absent from the list was Skype. Ahonen says he battled to find comprehensive numbers for the communication service:

“I could not find any official number for Skype Mobile users. I did find Android and iOS Skype app download numbers. From the iOS number I arbitrarily assigned Apple’s iPhone percentage ie 58% as in the strict definition of ‘mobile’,” he said.

“The iPod Touch is a portable/pocketable device, not a ‘mobile’ device, and the iPad is an ultraportable PC but not a ‘mobile’ device – only true cellular, permanently connected pocketable devices (ie those that ‘ring in the pocket’) fit the definition of a mobile device.”

Ahonen’s figures, it should also be noted, only take registered users into account, not active users.

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