By Glenn Chapman/ AFP
San Francisco: MySpace on 16 April officially launched in India, as the world’s most popular social networking website strives to fend off fast-growing rival Facebook in the international arena.
MySpace India is an online community tailored to that country’s culture and boasts industry alliances including a partnership with India’s largest television network Star TV.
“We’re thrilled today to be launching MySpace in one of the world’s most vibrant cultures,” said the News Corporation-owned firm’s international managing director Travis Katz.
“We will be providing the people of India the tools they need to live their lives online and ... a launch pad for Indian creators, from developers to musicians to filmmakers, to showcase their talents on the global stage.”
A national college talent search program called “Campus Star” is broadcast on Star TV and features judging by celebrities and members of a MySpace audience. The show can be found online at http://www.myspace.com/channelv.
MySpace is celebrating the formal launch of the website, which was online previously in a “beta” testing mode, with a concert in Mumbai headlining rock bands Pentagram, Super Fuzz, and Them Clones.
MySpace will host an event in Bangalore on 21 April for local software developers it wants to inspire to create hip, useful or fun applications for people to use on website profile pages.
MySpace has hosted similar local “devJam” or developer jam events in China, Japan, Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States.
The unveiling of MySpace India comes two days after the US firm launched a locally customized South Korea version of the website.
MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe was optimistic while kicking off the South Korea social networking website, saying it took lessons from Internet firms that had trouble getting traction in that country.
MySpace first went international by moving into Europe in 2006 and now has websites serving 25 countries including France, Russia, Australia and Japan.
MySpace rival Facebook has set out to boost its global popularity by making itself available in different languages, launching French, Spanish and German websites since the start of the year.
MySpace and its roster of approximately 110 million users still dominates the US market but fresh data from industry-tracker comScore indicates Facebook is closing the gap with MySpace when it comes to international visitors.
A majority of Facebook users live outside the United States, with a third based in Europe. France has the sixth largest community after United States, Britain, Canada, Turkey and Australia, the site says.
ComScore listed Facebook among the websites with the fastest rising number of visitors in 2007. Facebook has been steadily gaining on MySpace, which was founded in 2003 and snapped up two years later by Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Facebook’s 23-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest ever self-made billionaire according to Forbes magazine. The site’s value has been estimated at as much as 15 billion dollars (9.75 billion euros), based on Microsoft paying 240 million dollars for a 1.6 percent stake in the company last year.