Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Seeking world domination of social media

In researching PCs, cell phones, and other consumer products, I was struck by how the brands that are dominant in one country are not in another. The story usually wasn’t very complex, reflecting a domestic firm that succeeded in its home market but not anywhere else: Fujitsu was the dominant PC seller in Japan, HP & Dell in the US, Siemens in Germany, Acer in Tawian, Lenovo (née Legend) in China, etc.

There were a few brands that were able to become truly global by cracking some (thought not all) overseas markets, of which Nokia, Motorola and Samsung cell phones would be good examples. But it didn’t really match the pattern of IBM in mainframes or Boeing vs. Airbus in commercial airliners, where the same firms sold the world over. Some of it must have to do with economies of scale: the up front R&D costs for an A380 or 787 are unparalleled in any industry, whereas any teenager in a garage can assemble a Wintel-compatible desktop PC.

ValleyWag has posted a global map of the dominant social networking (aka social media) sites by major country. So it’s myspace in the US, facebook in the UK and Canada, Orkut in India and Brazil, friendster in Southeast Asia and LiveJournal in Russia. Yes, deliberate efforts to create a national champion have succeeded in France, Germany and Korea, but otherwise the story seems much more subtle than that.

At first glance, the social media are less nation- or language-bound than the old media (TV, records, newspaper, books, magazines). For one-to-many distributed content, you need long roots in a country to understand their tastes and generate an attractive assortment that consumers will like.

However, if you are Six Apart of San Francisco — makers of Movable Type blogging software and operator of the TypePad and LiveJournal services — you need to translate your software into Russian and then let Russian users generate their own content. Network effects take off after that.

I’m sure the story is more complex than the previous paragraph might imply. Some of my academic colleagues who are opportunistic econometricians (known as “data miners” in our trade) will want to study the social networking quasi-experiment — using factors such as market entry timing, localization (translation) and existing competitors — to systematically explain the success of various social media competitors.

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Joel West said...

A couple of follow-ups on Orkut.

1. It was started by by a Google employee.

2. Orkut is now available in Hindi but this announcement in August seems to be after it became popular in South Asia.

Hat tip: Rahul the wedding crasher.

Anonymous said...

There are many social networking services operated like Orkut.com, MySpace, Facebook, etc. Orkut.com is being operated by Google. MySpace is an online community that lets you meet your friends' friends. These are popular sites especially among youths. Here people come into contact with each other and build up relations whether personal or business. There is a provision of creating a private community on MySpace and share photos, journals and interests with your growing network of mutual friends. We can judge the popularity of these sites by seeing their ranking in Alexa. Orkut has been steadily rising on the Alexa charts but MySpace is still significantly bigger than Orkut.com.

MySpace is for everyone:
1) Friends who want to talk Online
2) Single people who want to meet other Singles
3) Matchmakers who want to connect their friends with other friends
4) Families who want to keep in touch--map your Family Tree
5) Business people and co-workers interested in networking
6) Classmates and study partners

Anyone looking for long lost friends