April 15, 2008

MySpace Korean Launch Positive

The South Korean version of MySpace released recently, and according to the chief executive it is ready to shine in the new market due to the attention it pays to local culture. Chris DeWolfe, speaking in Seoul, claimed confidence in the new site's prospects in a market which many online services have had difficulties grasping.

According to DeWolfe, MySpace is taking great strides against failure to pay tribute to South Korea's local culture. For companies such as Google and other American companies, gaining this market has been a losing battle. "We've done a lot of studies on what went wrong with those companies and why," DeWolfe claimed, to support his beliefs that this version of MySpace will excel.

In South Korea, it is typically the local companies such as Daum Communications and NHN Corp.'s Naver Web site which lead the competition over search engines like Google. And MySpace, based in Los Angeles, will face similar competition from local social-networking sites like Cyworld.  The market just generally shuns American online services.

During a forum at Seoul's Yonsei University, DeWolfe said, "We believe that there's different cultures in every country. We believe that people use web sites differently in every country."

The new Korean-language site includes features such as a "Minilog", a way for the youths of Korea to write abbreviated blogs in a few hundred characters. It also includes personalization options for backgrounds to resemble fancy stationery, due to the appeal the fancy papers hold for Asians.

Music and video will be the primary content for the site, allowing it to cross language barriers. The site will primarily be in Korean, but users can switch to another language at any time. Personal profile information will remain in Korean. The site is not only adding these special features, but it is also softening the blue color on its site in order to give it a heightened since of intimacy. MySpace South Korea will also have consistently-sized thumbnails.

Despite all of these efforts, some Koreans remain skeptical about MySpace's prospects.

A 29-year-old office worker, Kang Ji-hye, said that South Koreans generally prefer familiarity over advanced features.

Lee Da-young, a 20-year-old student is curious about the language barrier. He expressed concern that most will have trouble getting past it stating, "I wonder how many Koreans can communicate with those abroad in English."

Including the recent addition of Korea, the internet hot spot MySpace has sites in 15 languages for 29 different countries or regions. The company also plans to launch a site for India later this week. Last week, it expanded its site for U.S.-based Latinos.


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Yonsei University