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Global SNS set their sights on Korean market

A colleague in Korea wrote an informative posting about global social networking service providers (SNS) trying to muscle into an…

By Cynthia Yoo , in Blogs SNS 3.0: The Asian Invasion , on January 22, 2008

Second Life in Korea

A colleague in Korea wrote an informative posting about global social networking service providers (SNS) trying to muscle into an already very competitive market in Korea.

Google and Microsoft have entered the search engine market in Korea but home-grown portal sites such as Naver and Daum have fought them off quite successfully.

Now the fight has moved to SNS, video-sharing and UGC arenas.

Global SNS/UGC-sites such as MySpace, Youtube, Second Life and Entropia Universe have decided Korea is an ideal market.

Friends in Korea wonder if these SNS providers aren’t just cruising for a bruising. Korea has a very competitive market with very dominant domestic portal sites (Naver, Daum) that have already launched huge UGC-campaigns in the past couple of years.

A few reasons for the Korean entries are:

1. Test bed for innovative practices and platforms

  • Korea has the highest broadband penetration in the world
  • It has a highly sophisticated user-base that can easily and cheaply access various mobility networks (various WiMAX services are available)

2. “Colonize” new markets

  • Murdoch’s MySpace is being edged out of the North American market by Facebook
  • As a result, MySpace is developing a “global” strategy to leverage its global brand into a big market share of the global SNS market
  • Korea is seen as a good “entry point” or “stepping stone” into Mainland China’s “promised land”

3. Room for all?

  • There are cracks in Naver and Cyworld’s domination of the market
  • Korean consumers and media experts complain of lack of innovation by the industry leaders and a desire for the next big thing

In return, the global SNS providers promise that their global networks will give Korean users access to global cultural and lifestyle trends.

They also intend to tailor their products and services to the Korean market.

For instance, Second Life will provide Korean-style avatars and user-interface for its Korean edition. It also intends to expand and tailor content and services for Korean online gaming, music, celebrity culture and entertainment. It also plans to expand services and content onto mobile and cell phone networks using open-source applications.

What’s exciting about these various moves by global SNS providers is that they are experimenting in new markets and new media services and products. Google is developing a cross-platform application system called OpenSocial that hope to free social network sites from their particular applications. OpenSocial has experienced many hiccups since its launch, but the dream is still well and alive.

Korea provides a sophisticated user base, great infrastructure in both broadband and mobility networks and businesses ready to turn these factors into…well, the “next big thing.” That’s what these global networks are gunning for.

We’ll see how they fare.