Perhaps the most surprising thing about the news that an iPhone-only social networking tool is imminently about to launch is the fact that it is nothing to do with either Facebook or MySpace.

Or perhaps not so surprising after all?

Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch has been keeping his beady eye on this space for some time now.

Arrington had a vested interest in developing a successful social network for iPhones, noting that following extensive research into the potential market for such an application, he explored "putting together a team to build a basic network on top of the iPhone SDK".

However, Arrington adds that he “abandoned that idea last week when I saw a live demo, on the iPhone, of an upcoming social network that does everything I called for” back in his original speculative post in February of this year.

The iPhone elite

While the name of the new social networking startup is still kept under wraps, TechCrunch does outline a few details about the application:

"It shows you everyone around you who has it installed on an iPhone (default privacy is set to off, but can be changed). Users can scroll through nearby users, and set filters for men, women or age ranges. If you find someone interesting you can pull up their profile and ping them. If they respond you can start a chat, on the phone or in person. Of course, they can also choose to block you."

It continues, in a slightly sinister sounding fashion: "Location is based on the triangulation feature of the iPhone, which is accurate enough to get this going. And the startup thinks they’ve found a way around the fact that third party iPhone applications can’t run in the background .”

Dystopian vision

MacFormat’s Chris Phin summed up our own thoughts on the future of mobile social networking nicely, telling us:

"The iPhone's location-awareness is one of its features most ripe with possibilities; the SDK opens it up to third party developers to do stuff just like this. It looks like a great use of the technology, though I have a horrific dystopian vision in which iPhone users congregate to feel superior to those toting less hypetastic handsets."

Stay tuned for more on the future of mobile social networking as soon as we get it.