Social networking is changing the the way people communicate in countries outside of the United States and Canada. Since November 2006 through September 2007 there has been a steady growth in social networking sites by about 99.3 millions of users. a In North America the number of users grew by 15 million.
The late 1990s saw the first websites focused on social networks that included MySpace, Hi5 and Cyworld. People connected with friends and made new cyber friends through these sites. Nearly a decade later this trend has spread in Asia and Australia where the growth was measured at 50 percent (up by about 168 million users.)
The Statistics between November 2006 and September 2007 (source: Technology Review issue Jan/Feb 2008)
Europe & Russia:
Nov 2006: 99,673,000
Sept 2007: 131,711,000
Central & South America:
Nov 2006: 33,832,000
Sept 2007: 43,457,000
Middle East & Africa:
Nov 2006: 14,045,000
Sept 2007: 20,782,000
Asia & Australia:
Nov 2006: 115,359,000
Sept 2007: 168,919,000
Nov 2006: 108,668,000
Sept 2007: 123,671,000
Though the Middle East and Africa showed a slower growth than N. America, it seems that the war and the turbulence in that part of the world would hinder the most educational and technological advances. Meanwhile
Asia and Australia shows the highest growth at 53.5 million. This area is highly populous and there industrial growth of China and neighboring Pacific Asian countries plus India would account for this large piece of the pie. All three areas are booming in computer systems technologies. Australia has also always had a strong reputation to be on the leading edge.
Meanwhile, Europe and Russia follows as the next highest growth. The reason is probably quite closely related to Asia and Australia where the Eastern European countries and Russia have steadily grew out of a longish economic slump since the collapse of the ruble in July 1993 (which was preceded by the fall of the Berlin Wall two years earlier.) The communist block countries has been rebuilding its economy since that period, and economic turnaround has also brought up the standards of education and technology amongst the population.
I spent some time in S. America in the early to mid-year of 2005 and was surprised at the high popularity of internet sites in the big cities (Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, the province of Bahia, and Caracas.) Though there was only a mild growth of social networking sites, the whole continent still has some economic challenges before people can afford the laptops and workstations that are accessible, affordable, and prevalent in the the northern hemisphere of the world. It seems to me that the countries in the lower latitude suffer more hardships, because of political upheavals that tie very closely to the economic conditions.
Social networks (including blogging sites) are a great medium for linking minds and souls. Music has been among the strongest medium that bring people together, thus the boom of P2P sites where people started to share music. This brought concerns among the record labels and the producers including the artists over the monies they aren't realizing by loss of sales of CDs. More importantly, they were concerned in arresting the growing trend of how people are collecting music. This is just one aspect of how social networking is revolutionizing behavior in the society and its affect on big business.
On a more recent and local front, Imeem (formerly the Original Napster and San Francisco-based) announced to acquire Snocap, a company which powers the technology used on MySpace for downloading music.