Facebook’s importance to the mobile world

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clip_image001Facebook certainly has come a long way from its 2004 origins as a yearbook for Harvard University students. Easily the most popular social networking site with more than 400 million users worldwide, it may be about to provide more features, if rumours can be believed.

‘Project Titan’ is expected to be Facebook’s unveiling of greatly expanded messaging capabilities, adding full email functionality to its pages. Currently, Facebook messaging is only available by logging directly into the site, but users will be granted their chosen-name@facebook.com, accessible while browsing, or through POP3 and IMAP clients.

Microsoft have the biggest webmail share at present, with around 260 million users. A move into email could scoop the top slot for Facebook very quickly. But beyond our own pages, why does it matter?

Customers want information on the move, and they want it all the time. Newly launched reporting tool, Mobile Media Metrics (MMM), from the GSM Association demonstrates the importance of social networking sites to the mobile industry. The data for December 2009 shows that five million people spent in total, more than 2 billion minutes on Facebook from mobiles. That’s more than seven hours of checking status updates each, and accounts for more than 50% of all data use shown in the survey. Perhaps explaining why every phone is now advertised dripping with social networking widgets and brand names.

The provisional data from MMM only includes Orange, Vodafone and O2. T-Mobile and 3 are taking part as well, and their data may push the figure even higher.