Figures marked up by media firm Nielsen indicate that mobile access to social networking sites is increasing in Europe and the US, with close to 2pc of mobile subscribers in many countries logging on via their handheld device.
In the UK, some 810,000 mobile subscribers, or 1.7pc of all mobile users in the country, visited social networking sites via their phone during the first quarter of this year.
This was twice as high as in major European countries like France, Spain and Germany, but on a par with the US where 4.1 million people or 1.6pc of the total mobile subscriber base now access sites like Facebook and MySpace using their phones.
In the US, 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. By contrast, Facebook led mobile social networking sites in the UK 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,” said Jeff Herrmann, vice-president of Mobile Media at Nielsen Mobile.
“In the UK and the US especially, we 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,” Herrman said.
By John Kennedy