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Smartphones, geosocial to drive massive growth in mobile social networking

There are around 650-million mobile social media users in the world today. According to Juniper Research, a company specialising in providing research and analysis to companies in the tech sector, that number is to set hit 1.3-billion by 2016 — “more than the total number of social media users on all platforms today”.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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Juniper Research reckons that a large part of the growth will be as a result of the continuing adoption of smartphones and the rise of geosocial networking — a type of social networking which relies on geographic services to provide additional features to social networks. These additional features allow people to both interact with each other relative to their locations and to interact with their locations.

“People want to find out not only what their friends are doing, but also their location and other available activities in the area. Geosocial networks are particularly suited to the mobile space as most smartphones now include GPS, and have an ‘always on, always connected’ experience,” says Juniper Research.

One side effect of the geosocial rise is an explosion in the mobile dating market. According to Juniper Research, services that combine location and instant messaging are becoming increasingly successful. The research company also claims that this combination is particularly popular among young people “who consider these to be key features.”

Juniper reckons the mobile dating market will be worth $2.3-billion by 2016, up from its current value of $1-billion.

“Location features on smartphones are opening up a new side of both dating and social networking. Adding location features to a service makes the service local to the user. This will be a key feature for mobile dating services — why send emails to someone hundreds of miles away when you can exchange instant messages with someone only hundreds of metres away?” says the report’s author, Charlotte Miller.

The rise of geosocial networking has been behind the success of some of the biggest names in tech today, including Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp.