The early buzz at a rather subdued CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment conference in San Francisco is not over music, video or games, but rather social networking. With these other areas of content now struggling to grow past the hype stage of previous years to the execution stage, mobile social networking services are being hailed as the next exciting area of mobile content.

According to data from M:Metrics, only 3.3% of mobile phone users today utilize some sort of mobile social networking service, which panelists at the conference say represents a large opportunity. But don't expect mobile versions of social networking profiles to have the same effect on the music industry as their MySpace counterparts do.

Mobile social networking, attendees here say, is all about communication, like text messaging and sharing photos. There is room for sharing song clips and other types of content, but currently carriers lock music into their proprietary music stores, which then cannot be shared by other users.

"At the moment we're talking about the building blocks," says Shawn Conahan, CEO of the mobile social network provider Intercasting.

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