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Global active memberships in social networking sites are expected to reach 230 million at the end of 2007 (including multiple memberships by users), and revenues from social-networking services should reach $965 million, growing to $2.4 billion by 2012, according to a new report.

But the explosive growth in social networking will plateau worldwide by 2012 – and earlier for the United States – according to Datamonitor’s report, “The Future of Social Networking: understanding market strategic and technological developments.”

In the meantime, infrastructure providers, social-network providers and wireless players stand to profit, said Ri Pierce-Grove, technology analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.

Most large social-networking services, especially those that allow the distribution of content like video, have wide geographic reach, according to Datamonitor, which projects that by yearend 2007…

  • Asia Pacific will account for 35% of the world’s social-networking memberships.
  • Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) will account for 28%.
  • North America, 25%.
  • The Caribbean and Latin America (CALA), 12%.

Adoption curves vary dramatically by region, but Datamonitor expects membership growth in all regions to peak by 2009 and level out by 2012.

datamonitor-us-social-networking-membership-share.jpg

In the United States, MySpace accounts for nearly half of 2007’s 54 million social-network memberships, according to Datamonitor:

  • MySpace: 47.4%
  • Facebook: 18.2%
  • Google’s YouTube and Orkut: a combined 7.6%
  • Flickr 7.1%

(Note: YouTube traffic is included to the extent that it applies to social networking, as estimated by Datamonitor.)

“The extraordinary proliferation of online social networks is fueled by real innovation and is substantially changing the way we communicate,” said Pierce-Grove. “However, the hothouse atmosphere of easy capital, media attention, and user curiosity which stimulates creativity will not be sustained indefinitely.

“All players therefore must develop a two-pronged strategy in order to survive the extremes of heat and eventual chill which this market will undergo,” she added.

About the report: “The Future of Social Networking: understanding market strategic and technological developments” provides an overview of the drivers, trends and industry developments in social networking. It sizes and forecasts memberships and revenue for social networking through 2012 and provides strategic analysis of major stakeholders. The report also identifies underserved and potentially profitable regional markets. Traffic from video- and media-sharing sites is included to the extent that they apply to social networking.

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