Many startups have ventured into proximity based social networking, for various reasons: friendship, dating, professional networking, etc.
Proximity apps have failed in the past, because they grow their user base all over their home country or around the world – without actually increasing density in one area first. To grow, these apps need high user density in a single location, not a large number of scattered users.
Another reason is that some of these apps claim to be proximity-based but aren’t. Proximity means within your own building or block, or a few kilometres at the most. Many apps just pointlessly display everyone within fifty kilometres or don’t even have a radius limit. I used an app called Shapr. I live in Mumbai, and it was showing me people in Sri Lanka and even Pakistan and Bangladesh. Then I started using Ohai – it’s showing users who work in the same office building as me! *phew*
Anyhow, getting back to your question: I think proximity-based apps have huge potential, as they can connect you to nearby people that you never thought you’d be interested in. For example, my company needed a web designer. With Ohai I actually found a web designer living across the road from my office (I’d never have found him otherwise, because he’s not listed anywhere else).
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Proximity based apps are still in their infancy, they have a long way to go. But eventually, they might just replace Facebook – or be absorbed by it.