Saturday, January 22, 2011

Korean Social Networking Trends in the Smartphone Era

This is a follow-on to the previous post and earlier posts about social networking in Korea.  The Joongang Daily has an interesting article with data from Metrix showing what happened to social network service traffic in Korea during the year following arrival of the Apple iPhone and the so-called "smart phone shock" here.  As shown in the accompanying graphic (click on it to see a larger version), although Korea's homegrown Cyworld still has far more members than Facebook or Twitter, the latter two services have relatively more pageviews---many more per user!
There are several main reasons for the relative success of Facebook and Twitter in the face of a well-established Cyworld that was already dominant in the Korean market and had operated here for nearly half a decade before Facebook was even invented in the U.S.   First, Cyworld was designed as a Korean language service, with Korean users in mind.   It failed in its efforts to penetrate such international markets as the U.S., Germany, Taiwan and Japan.  Second, while Facebook and Twitter took advantage of the mobile broadband and smartphone revolution, Cyworld neglected Apple's iPhone and the new Android phones, instead concentrating on the outmoded Windows mobile platform.  Finally, the internet is inherently a global phenomenon.  Such SNS services as Facebook and Twitter allow networking throughout the world, across most national borders.  As the Joongang Daily article points out, Cyworld's image of being a Korean company rather than an international one was a big obstacle.

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