What is the future of proximity based social networking?

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).

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.