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Social networking use among mobile users grows in Europe

Twitter and LinkedIn more than doubled its audiences, but is still far behind Facebook

The number people accessing social networking sites in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. using their mobile phone has grown by 44 percent in the last year, market research company comScore said on Monday.

In September, 55 million users in the five countries accessed social networking sites or blogs on their mobile device, representing about one in four of the total mobile audience, according to comScore. Nearly half of these users reported doing it on a daily basis, a 67 percent increase compared to the same month last year, it said.

Twitter and LinkedIn more than doubled its audiences, but Facebook is still the biggest by a wide margin. Facebook's audience grew from about 25 million to more than 39 million. That compares to 8.6 million users for Twitter and 2.2 million users for LinkedIn, according to comScore's data.

Of the five countries, U.K. was the one with the highest penetration of smartphone users at approximately 47 percent, while Germany is lagging behind at 33 percent. That is reflected in the number of users who accessed social networking sites or blogs in the two countries: 35 percent in the U.K. compared to about 17 percent in Germany.

Using a browser is still the most popular means of access, but the use of applications is growing rapidly.

The growing popularity of social networking hasn't been missed by operators, mobile phone vendors and sites themselves, which are looking to increase the audience by working together on cheaper smartphones.

Last week, Orange launched three Alcatel One Touch phones with dedicated Facebook buttons that will be priced below €100 (US$135). Earlier this month MediaTek, a designer of software and chipsets for low-end phones, said it will put Facebook on feature phones that will cost below $50 before subsidies.

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