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$52 billion in Mobile Social Network revenue by 2012?

Informa Telecoms says mobile social network revenues could reach $52 billion by 2012.  $52 big ones….

Of course, the press release doesn't actually say what mobile social networks are, nor who is building them.  But it does say that $1.5 billion in revenues were earned from these mythical beasts in … 2006?

Oi! This is just too much, especially since most people would likely agree that we don't actually know what constitutes a mobile social network yet.  Sure, some social networks like Facebook have mobile elements.  And some others, like mig33, live primarily in mobile space.  But these all have web based elements too.  And, most aren't cranking out revenues of the magnitude that would lead to a total of $1.5 billion two years ago. So what social network is Informa Telecoms pointing to?

I just hate these breathless "analyst" reports, don't you? 

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Dean Fresonke February 12, 2008, 10:58 am

    Alec,
    We were actually interviewed by Christine Perey for this report regarding our http://jumpinmobile.com mobile social network. She was pretty thorough in rounding up companies but the end result — $1.5B in 2006 and R3.0B in 2007, are indeed shocking. The actual community builders like us were not generating numbers like that the past two years. However, she apparently looked at the entire value chain and included revenues generated by SMS, MMS, and IP data traffic associated with social networking that went into the carrier's coffers. With that in mind, the numbers still seem high but are much more within the realm of reason.

    I've always struggled with this approach to value chain analysis in the wireless industry because it buries the work of the VASPs in the carrier revenue numbers. If the analysts are going to do this, they just as well study market segments like the "Who's Picking up the Kids Tonight" market. That generates a lot of SMS, MMS and voice traffic too.

  • Chris February 12, 2008, 11:09 am

    Alec, I might take it a step further beyond mobile and say that there could be wide disagreement on what a social network is. Rhetorically speaking, why isn’t eBay considered a social network? Is it because they have been around long before the buzzword grew popular or are there fundamental attributes that define it with specificity? Why isn’t the global telephone system considered a social network? Might be an interesting topic for your Squawk Box :-)

  • Alec February 14, 2008, 2:05 am

    Hi Dean,

    Thanks for the insight. I would agree with you that the approach of burying the work of the VASPs in the carrier revenue numbers is problematic. The value, of course, is that it tells carriers what the value is to them of working with your business category, but it doesn’t help you any. Moreover, how can you really tell if the calls would have been made anyway, in the absence of a social network.

    A

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