March 16, 2009

Bebo Expanding Services

On Monday, social networking website Bebo announced the launch of five new European-language versions, its first major expansion outside the English-speaking world.

Bebo, which is owned by America Online, claims to have over 22 million users worldwide, almost half of them are in Britain.

Bebo was only available in English and in Polish, until now.  Facebook, the market leader of social networking websites, has 40 different language versions that it offers to its users.

Bebo users are now able to choose French, German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch languages because of Monday's addition.

"We think there are lot of opportunities in the Western European market, both for user potential and for monetization," Bebo's international vice president Nicole Vanderbildt told AFP.

"International expansion is a key part of our growth strategy," she said, adding that Bebo had "very ambitious plans" for the European market.

Industry research suggests that more people logged on to membership community websites than e-mail services in December.

There were over 240 million people worldwide using a social networking service in December, according to figures from Nielsen online.

Bebo slipped from third to eight position over the past year in the global social networking market, according to the research firm comScore.

Vanderbildt said she was confident Bebo will reverse the trend.

"It's a fast changing market," she said. "If you look back two years ago the leaders then are totally different than the leaders now."

Last week, Bebo attempted to get a foothold in the U.S. market by launching a new Latino version of its site.


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