In the wake of free mobile photo sharing application, Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook for a billions dollars, strategy consultant Tomi Ahonen has provided a ‘preliminary’ list of the largest mobile social networks by user – which features two SA-affiliated companies in the top 10.

Mobile QQ, owned by China-based firm, Tencent – of which SA media giant, Naspers has a 34% interest in – ranks second behind Facebook, while Mxit is rated ninth largest.

Ahonen said that a number of news reports suggest that Instagram is the biggest mobile social network. “It is far from that. It may be the biggest social network purely for mobile – in the USA – but that is hardly the biggest in the world,” he said.

Largest social networks on mobile to the end of 2011

Social Network (Owner) Users Home Base
Facebook Mobile 425 000 000 USA
Mobile QQ (Tencent) 200 000 000 China
Sina (Weibo) 150 000 000 China
RenRen 61 000 000 China
iMessenger (Apple) 58 000 000 USA
Mig33 55 000 000 Singapore
Twitter Mobile 55 000 000 USA
BlackBerry Messenger 50 000 000 Canada
MXit 50 000 000 South Africa
Nimbuzz 50 000 000 Netherlands
Skype Mobile (Microsoft) 40 000 000 USA
Gree 35 000 000 Japan
Instagram 30 000 000 USA
Mobile Cyworld (SK) 25 000 000 South Korea
Mobage Town (DeNA 25 000 000 Japan

Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Estimates April 2012.

Ahonen pointed out that the listing was preliminary and incomplete.

“I could not find any official number for Skype Mobile users. I did find Android and iOS Skype app download numbers. From the iOS number I arbitrarily assigned Apple’s iPhone percentage ie 58% as in the strict definition of ‘mobile’,” said Ahonen.

“The iPod Touch is a portable/pocketable device, not a ‘mobile’ device, and the iPad is an ultraportable PC but not a ‘mobile’ device – only true cellular, permanently-connected pocketable devices (ie those that ‘ring in the pocket’) fit the definition of a mobile device.”

In releasing its results in March 2012, Tencent noted that during 2011, popularity of mobile Internet among users grew significantly on the back of the increasing adoption
of smartphones and the emergence of a large variety of compelling mobile applications.

Mobile internet users equated to 69.3% of the total internet user-base at the end of 2011.

Quoting numbers released by the China Internet Network Information Center, Tencent said that the total number of Internet users in China increased by 12.2% on a year-on-year basis, to 513.1 million at the end of 2011, while Internet penetration increased to 38.3%.

Source: BusinessTech

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