The market for social networking properties is set to expand rapidly. End-user generated revenues from social networking, dating services and personal content delivery facilities will increase globally from $US572 million this year to more than $US5.7 billion in 2012, with social networking accounting for 50 per cent, US market research organisation Juniper Research says in a recent report. The research report suggests that the delivery of content through mobile telephones will play a large part in the predicted growth with viral marketing contibuting to the rapid expansion of users.
However, its author, Dr Windsor Holden, says the key challenge is for the large number of providers entering the market to monetise the rapidly growing interest.
The report found:
* The number of active users of mobile social networking sites is expected to rise from 14 million this year to nearly 600 million in 2012.
* Mobile dating and chatroom services account for 57 per cent of user-generated revenues, although this proportion will fall to 21 per cent by 2012 as other services increase in popularity
* The volume of downloads from mobile personal content delivery sites such as SeeMeTV will rise from less than 200 million to more than 9 billion in 2012.
* Off-portal social networking sites will increasingly opt for free-to-consumer, advertising-funded business models to gain visibility and market presence.
* High data charges remain a key hurdle to mass service adoption.
The chief executive of the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association, John Butterworth, says the boom in social networking has given a number of Australian technology development companies a much needed boost.
"My favourite at the moment is rememberthemilk.com - you write all your errands for the week and it plots your trips."
The site offers the solution to the paper-based "to-do" list using advanced web-development techniques. It allows users create and manage tasks on the web, and even share lists with others and allows users to send reminders via SMS, e-mail or instant message.
Butterworth says the association undertook research with accounting group KPMG to look at the impact and opportunities around the whole Web 2.0 phenomena.
He says the results showed that the industry is getting a lot better at understanding how opportunities such as social networking can be used as a business opportunity.
"This reminds me of the browser wars - who would have thought Netscape would have been overtaken. There will be a huge amount of experimentation in this area too," he commented.
© Fairfax Business Media
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