Q&A: A Social Network Built on Mobile Phones

Even before Facebook had an iPhone app, MocoSpace, a social network that appeals to a young, diverse demographic, had capitalized on the idea of networking via mobile devices.

From its inception, MocoSpace was designed for use not on smartphones but on traditional “feature” phones, which account for 80 percent of its traffic. The social network encourages users to find new friends online, and people can search and filter by gender, location and age among other criteria. It incorporates music, photos, videos, chat and games into the mobile and Web platforms.

MocoSpace has only a tiny slice of the social-networking pie. Facebook has 400 million active users as of February, while MocoSpace just hit 13 million registered users this week. The organization was not able to specify beyond “in the millions” how many of them are active users, defined as having logged into their accounts within the past 30 days.

When they designed the MocoSpace application in 2005, cofounders Justin Siegel, 38, and Jamie Hall, 37, didn’t know what audience they would have: 81 percent of users are under 30 years old, and 70 percent are African-American or Hispanic, according to the site. Now, Mr. Siegel said he thinks mobile products like MocoSpace help bridge a digital divide.

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