Location-Based Mobile Social Networking: Hype or Reality?

Social networking has been around for some time. Facebook and MySpace have become iconic, and other sites such as hi5, Bebo, and orkut are becoming important as well. At the end of 2007, Microsoft paid $240 million for a 1.6% stake in Facebook, sparking a fierce debate about the theoretical valuation of Facebook. While few would go along with the $15 billion price tag, nobody would deny the huge potential of Facebook. The relevance of social networking for advertisers is very high considering they want to invest their money where the potential customers are located: on social networking sites. The success of social networking should not come as a surprise. Social interaction is deeply rooted in human nature and is one of the most fundamental needs. Wireless and Internet technology act as enablers and facilitators for enhanced social interaction with a global reach. While social networking has been and still is dominated by teenagers and young adults, it is quickly spreading to all age groups and beyond the confines of consumer entertainment. Corporations are discovering the power of networking sites to enhance their brands, communities, and overall interaction with their customers by seamlessly linking corporate Web sites to public sites such as Facebook. And something even bigger is about to take place.

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