Social networking services will dominate a burgeoning market for mobile user-generated content, according to a new report from Juniper Research.
Globally, end-user generated revenues from social networking, dating and personal content delivery services will increase from $572m in 2007 to more than $5.7bn in 2012, with social networking accounting for 50% of the total by the end of the forecast period.
According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Even though social networking sites are in their infancy, the exponential growth experienced by a number of mobile service providers - in some cases achieved primarily through viral marketing - would seem to affirm that there is huge potential in this area. The key challenge now is for those providers to monetise that interest."
Holden added that, in the medium term, the highest levels of growth could well be experienced in developing markets with limited fixed broadband access. "In these markets, the mobile phone is becoming the predominant means by which people access the internet. Hence, the overwhelming majority of online social networking will be conducted via the handset rather than the PC."
Juniper Research assesses the current and future status of mobile user-generated content based on interviews, case studies and analysis from representatives of some of the leading organisations in the growing mobile user-generated content industry.
Other findings from the report include:
* The number of active users of mobile social networking sites is expected to rise from 14m in 2007 to nearly 600m in 2012.
* Mobile dating and chatroom services currently account for 57% of user-generated revenues, although this proportion will fall to 21% by 2012 as other UGC services increase in popularity
* The volume of downloads from mobile personal content delivery sites such as SeeMeTV are expected to rise from less than 200m in 2007 to more than 9bn in 2012.
* Off-portal social networking sites will increasingly opt for free-to-consumer, ad-funded business models to gain visibility and market presence.
* High data charges remain a key hurdle to mass service adoption.