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Social networking is among the fastest-growing US mobile categories by total audience, according to a new report from comScore. Data from “The 2010 Mobile Year in Review” indicates social networking reached 57.9 million US mobile users in December 2010, up 56% from a little less than 40 million in December 2009.

Social Network Category Has 2nd Largest Mobile Audience

This year-over-year growth rate compares favorably with the growth rates of other leading mobile categories such as classifieds (55%), mobile retail (53%) and general reference (47%). It is also worth noting that social networking had the third-largest audience of leading mobile categories in December 2010, slightly trailing weather and approximately 10% less than personal email, which had an audience of more than 60 million and a 39% growth rate.

Social Network Smartphone Usage More Pronounced

comscore-smartphone-socnet-2010-feb-20111.JPGAmong smartphone users, social networking usage was even more pronounced. In December 2010, 57.3% of smartphone users in the U.S. (36.2 million users) accessed social networking sites or blogs at least once during the month, an increase of about 24% from 46.1% the previous year.

European usage of social networking via smartphone also showed impressive growth, with 37.8% of smartphone users accessing social networking sites or blogs in the month (27.5 million users), up 91% from 14.4% the previous year.

Facebook Drives Mobile Social Networking

comscore-mobile-socnet-brand-2010-feb-2011.JPGThe growth of social networking via mobile devices is mainly driven by Facebook, which reached 90% of US social media users and 85% of European users, and grew more than 120% during the past year in both regions.

YouTube and Twitter hold second and third position in the US as well as Europe, but the European market shows much stronger growth. In Europe, YouTube grew 95% between December 2009 and December 2010, and the number of mobile Twitter users grew 195%.

The most significant continental difference in 2010 is the trend for MySpace, which declined 20% in the US but gained 32% in Europe.

Close to Half of US Mobile Subscribers Use Mobile Media

In December 2010, nearly 47% of mobile subscribers in the US were mobile media users (browsed the mobile web, accessed applications, downloaded content or accessed the mobile Internet via SMS), up about 17% from the previous year, according to other report data. Data from “The 2010 Mobile Year in Review” indicates the growth in mobile media usage is largely attributable to the growth in smartphone adoption, 3G/4G device ownership and the increasing ubiquity of unlimited data plans, all of which facilitate the consumption of mobile media.

Source: MarketingCharts

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