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Michael Arrington on Techcrunch has just written an article titled I Saw the Future of Social Networking the Other Day, referring to an unnamed start-up that has a mobile social network that runs on iPhone. Arrington writes:

A few years from now we’ll use our mobile devices to help us remember details of people we know, but not well. And it will help us meet new people for dating, business and friendship. Imagine walking into a meeting, classroom, party, bar, subway station, airplane, etc. and seeing profile information about other people in the area, depending on privacy settings. Picture, name, dating status, resume information, etc. The information that is available would be relevant to the setting – quick LinkedIn-type information for a business meeting v. Facebook dating status for a bar.

None of this is new. I wrote about proximity dating in my 2002 book Living Networks and on this blog in early 2003, at the time referring to Imahima, an early player in this space in Japan. In 2005 I wrote about the next phase of mobile social network players including Dodgeball (bought by Google, who did nothing with them) and Meetro, and over the last couple of years I was interviewed on mobile social networking by a number of publications, including one piece in 2006 on What accelerates – and slows – the development of social networking mobile platforms.

As Arrington points out, despite the promise of the space, the potential has yet to be fulfilled. I see a parallel path to browser-based social networking. From its early beginnings with sixdegrees.com in 2000, it took until 2007 for social networking sites to work out the basics of what people found compelling and were comfortable with, leading to a broad-based uptake of social networking sites. Similarly, there is no question that mobile social networking will be a pervasive application, once the early attempts are used as a foundation to provide a platform that really provides what people are comfortable with. The benefits are compelling, particularly when locational data is combined with profile data to enable friends and potential friends to connect.

Perhaps the application Arrington refers to will break through after only mildly successful attempts so far. Or perhaps another initiative to follow will succeed. What is a certainty is that we will be using mobile social networks even more centrally to our lives than the role of Facebook and other browser-based social applications today.

For the most current insights and trends in the living networks, follow @rossdawson on Twitter!

  • http://www.hiloa.com Hiloa

    Mobile advertising is a good gage to watch for the health of mobile social networks. Right now there a lot of mobile social networks trying to prove their business model based on ad sales. Crush or flush has added a new revenue model for mobile social networks that looks very promising. See the article posted at http://www.hiloa.com

  • http://www.emersondirect.wordpress.com Marc Meyer

    Mobile social is the only way for social networks to evolve. Once they reach the saturation point there will only be one last frontier for them to go after. Hand held devices are that frontier.
    With that being said, it will be awhile before the browsers collectively catch up. Right now Safari is the big Dog but that will soon change with the evolution of the G phone.

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Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of AHT Group, which consists of 3 companies: consulting, publishing, and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Ross is author most recently of Getting Results From Crowds, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, the Amazon.com bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and Implementing Enterprise 2.0. (click on the links for free chapter downloads). He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

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