Tuesday, September 12, 2006

European market won't be a cakewalk for MySpace

The social networking site rules in the U.S. Overseas is another matter, due to competition and a fragmented market

With more than 100 million users, MySpace has taken off in the U.S. by attracting a loyal following of young, Web-savvy consumers. Repeating that success in the big, fragmented European market won't be a cakewalk, analysts say. MySpace's competitors in Europe already have established themselves with local audiences, offering targeted content in native languages.
"MySpace is entering an extremely competitive market," says Stan Chudnovsky, general manager for California-based Internet company Tickle, owned by Monster Worldwide (MNST). "It must come up with new features to appeal to a European audience."

BEBO'S CHALLENGE. That could be harder than MySpace expects. Unlike the U.S., Europe's linguistic and cultural differences make it impossible for a one-size-fits-all approach to online social networks. What works in one country may not play well elsewhere. To its credit, MySpace is already adapting itself, launching a British version in April and its first non-English-language site in France in August. On Sept. 11, it unveiled its latest country-specific site in Germany.
MySpace aims eventually to roll out sites in other European countries, and later in China and India. The goal is to make each site as localized as possible, says Travis Katz, vice-president for international development. "For users, it should feel like my space, whether you're in Paris, Tokyo, or Dusseldorf."

To do that, the company is signing up popular local bands, adding native language videos, and staging events such as the popular "secret shows," where Indie and mainstream musicians play exclusive concerts for lucky MySpace members.

Yet in Britain, the European market most similar to the U.S., MySpace faces a tough fight for user loyalty.

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