South By Southwest stats highlight social networking, device usage

While there is still one day left for films and two days left for music, the interactive portion of Austin’s annual South By Southwest festival came to a close earlier this week. The event has seen a rising focus on technology. SXSW Multimedia was redubbed SXSW Interactive in 1999, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that things really took off, with a 2006 keynote panel featuring the founders of Wikipedia and Craigslist, and a major boost in 2007 for Twitter. The microblogging network’s presence there that year was a defining moment for the company, to the point that some now mistakenly believed that Twitter was launched at SXSW.

The social media presence in Austin has only grown since then and it is now very much a defining focus of the yearly festival. Social media analytics firm SimplyMeasured has now gone through the numbers and evaluated the big winners at this year’s festival (via TechCrunch). Pulling together statistics in three categories, the company has determined which group messaging and mobile check-in apps were the most popular, as well as which mobile device was most widely used.

In the Group Messaging War category, which measuring the top applications by tweets, GroupMe is the clear winner, commanding 65 percent of the total users. Beluga trails behind at 22 percent, followed by Kik at 10 percent and Fast Society at 3 percent.

The Mobile Platform War is dominated by Apple products, with 74 percent of #SXSW tweets originating on an iPhone (60 percent) or iPad (14 percent). Google’s Android OS matches the iPad usage stat at 14 percent, trailed by BlackBerry (12 percent) and Windows Phone (1 percent).

The final category, the Check-in War, is unsurprisingly won by the popular foursquare app, with 65 percent of users participating in the location-based meta-game. The other three competitors trailer far behind, with Gowalla coming out on top at 22 percent, ahead of SCVNGR (12 percent) and Whrrl (7 percent).

TechCrunch also notes that Geotoko, another analytics company, further confirmed the foursquare win. Check-ins are broken down by app at 31 Austin locations, with more than 48,000 reported during the five-day period. Users of foursquare were responsible for 32,392 check-in, a considerable lead over Gowalla’s 8,030 and Facebook Places’ 7,545.

It will be very interesting to see how these numbers shift by this time next year. Windows Phone 7 has plenty of room for improvement, but it is also a relatively new release. And while GroupMe remains the popular choice for group messaging, the recent Facebook acquisition of Beluga will most likely result in wider use of that platform — or whatever its jointly launched successor is — by the time SXSW returns in 2012.

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