News Corp.-owned MySpace.com, the largest online social network, launched its India-specific portal in.myspace.com on Thursday. It has set up a local team here to build up user base as well as original local content for the portal.
Logged in: Chinese teenagers play games and surf the Internet in a Beijing cyber cafe on Thursday. Several social networking sites are looking outside Europe and the US to boost revenues.
Close on the heels of its entry into South Korea two days back, the site’s India launch is part of its aggressive expansion into geographies outside the US. Myspace says it has launched its portals in 29 territories in the last 20 months.
“International expansion is strategic to our growth, as more than 50% of all online advertising dollars comes from outside the US,” says Travis Katz, managing director (international), MySpace.
The rapid scaling up is perceived as MySpace’s attempt to hold on to its No.1 position as younger rivals such as Facebook Inc. are gaining ground.
While MySpace tops the list in markets such as the US, Europe and Australia, it would likely face competition in India from Google Inc.’s Orkut.com, Facecbook and several local rivals such as Bigadda, owned by Reliance Communications Ltd, and Fropper, owned by People Interactive (I) Pvt. Ltd.
Orkut.com is the dominant player and Facecbook has gained popularity in the last year.
Worldwide, MySpace has 110 million registered users. The site does not release country-specific numbers, but its community Indihub, targeted at Indians, has over 90,000 registered users.
To build up local content and applications for the India portal, MySpace will seek out two target groups — the “creative community” comprising independent musicians, filmmakers and performers,and Web developers who can build applications on its platform.
In other markets, especially in the US and UK, MySpace has wooed users with a wide variety of user-generated content such as music and video uploads by independent artistes. It plans to follow a similar strategy in India as well.
In the coming months, it will host a number of offline events to showcase local bands and performers, such as live performances in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. It is also in talks with film schools such as Whistling Woods International and Xavier Institute of Communication to scout for undiscovered talent.
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’s 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 still dominates the US market but fresh data from industry tracker comScore indicates Facebook is closing the gap with MySpace. The growth of Facebook is more when it comes to international visitors.
A majority of Facebook users live outside the US, with a third based in Europe.
France has the sixth largest community after the US, Britain, Canada, Turkey and Australia, the site says.
ComScore listed Facebook among the websites with the fastest rising number of visitors in 2007. The site’s value has been estimated at as much as $15 billion (Rs60,000 crore), based on Microsoft Corp.’s payment of $240 million for a 1.6% stake in the company.
News Corp. publishes The Wall Street Journal. Mint has an exclusive content partnership in India with WSJ.
AFP’s Glenn Chapman contributed to this story.