Mobile Social Networking: An ‘X Factor’

Amid the predictions, experiments and beta tests for mobile local search one factor that has yet to really emerge or be fully considered is mobile social networking. While some people are talking about it, this “application” (whatever forms it takes in a mobile environment) is like to be very significant — at least among certain demographic segments. Whether it’s a mobile extension of online social networking, new mobile-exclusive networks or something less elaborate built around one-to-many SMS, it will be a factor. And it could put the best laid plans of current incumbents (be they carriers or search engines) in a difficult spot.

Indeed, mobile social networking might be a directory assistance or local search alternative. Here’s a hypothetical use case: I tell all my friends who are “online” that I’m in such and such location and I’m looking for directions or a particular bar, restaurant, business or whatever. One-to-many texting (or mobile IMing) allows me to efficiently send that message out to all my contacts. They then respond and I make choices accordingly.

Because this is truly my network, there’s a trust factor that could make such apps very useful and very widely used.

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Here are two related stories: one an announcement on an MTV mobile community launch in Europe (FunkySexyCool) and a short interview with Mitch Lazar of Yahoo! on mobile social networking.

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