Social Networks: Wherever You Go, There They Are

facebook iphone app 3.0The number of people accessing social networks on their mobile phones at least once a month in the U.S. has doubled since the beginning of the year, to 10 percent in the third quarter from 5 percent in the first quarter, according to Forrester Research, in line with stats Facebook released last month. The number of people who accessed that social networking site from their mobile phones tripled to 65 million, up from 20 million people back in December. The data also heralds what many people sense, that mobile phones are becoming an extension of the lives we lead on our personal computers. 

“Mobile phones have the potential to become the hub of social computing activities and to be more than just a complement to the PC experience,” Forrester analyst Thomas Husson wrote in a recent blog post. “Mobile phones will increasingly become the glue that holds the social graph together, offering creative tools and immediacy, presence, location, and context when interacting with the real world.”

Our real lives are increasingly starting to converge with social networks. For example, the latest version of Facebook’s iPhone app lets you call and text your friends from directly within it. Social networks are even replacing communication tools like email and IM.

As the phone becomes less a compliment, and more of a direct extension of the PC, everyone from carriers to big search engines is trying to grab a piece of the $1.3 billion that’s forecast to be spent on mobile advertising this year. And because our phones hold so much personal data and are carried with us wherever we go, that pie is potentially much bigger. Google, for example, made $22 billion in 2008 primarily from selling ads on the PC. The mobile ad network space, meanwhile, is expected to grow to $14 billion by 2012 (see the report on GigaOM Pro; subscription required). Just imagine how big of a goldmine that ad network would be if it captured some of those online dollars.