China Internet Search

new Google China home page interface

Only a few weeks ago, I showcased a number of alternative home page interfaces Google is using in East Asia. Today I saw a new UI for Simplified Chinese at one of the urls that previously had a different design.
Google China home page test UI
The previous design is here.
google china home page 2008
You can see the whole set of Google’s East Asian home pages at my Flickr account.

Blogs China Ecommerce Internet Japan Korea News

the consumer web services challenge of East Asia

Changwon Kim has news on his blog that Cyworld is quitting the US market: Cyworld pulling plugs from US.

Cause of failure? Well, for starters (the obvious ones): Cyworld didn’t seem to have sharp strategies as to how to position their service (Was it Myspace or Habbo hotel?); They didn’t localize the service very well; SK Telecom, the parent company, didn’t “get it” yet still tried to put a grip on the business.

Chang suggests that this recession is a good time for Korean entrepreneurs to build the post-Cyworld service that would ideally be more popular outside of Korea. I’d be happy for this to happen, but that barrier to success is quite high.


It’s clear from the existing marketplace that Asia is qualitatively different for consumer web services. I’ve been blogging about this for years and the best example comes from a post by Mitani-san at Asiajin quoting George Godula of Web2Asia; In fact, I’ll use the subtitle instead of the title as the subtitle is more relevant: Why it is difficult for European and U.S. companies to advance into Asia.

Godula’s presentation at Open Web Asia looked at China, Japan and Korea and compared the leading ecommerce, video hosting, sns, bbs and blog service vs. what is popular outside of Asia. It’s a crystal clear chart that shows that sites and services that are popular in North/South America or Europe are just nowhere to be found in Asia. Godula has a good list (be sure to click over to see it) of why companies are unsuccessful in Asia:

1. No formal internationalization/Asia entry strategy
2. Entered Asia too late/ too slow
3. Local HQ has no full decision power
4. Incomplete localization(Translation, Content, Pricing, Branding(name, colours, etc.), Features, Business model)
5. No Local technical development team (Slower time to market, More expensive)
6. Domestic players sometimes simply have the superior technology/business model
7. Global corporate guidelines
8. Local legislation

This is tough stuff. And as I commented on Chang’s blog, I’m not sure there are good examples of Asian-founded successful consumer web services that have been successful outside of their home areas. One might say Naver is doing ok in Japan with their web-based games but to me Flash-games are not consumer web services.

That Friendster’s success in SE Asia (specifically the Philippines) was largely accidental is telling. They’ve been smart to focus on their successful markets but being successful in markets by accident is a scary way to grow a business.

Tonight Jason Calcanis joins Tokyo 2.0.  I won’t be able to make it as I have a previous committment but if you go, ask Jason what he thinks it takes for a non-Asian consumer web service to be succesful in Asia.  Outside of core search (which is a consumer service but one that requires the deepest of pockets) it’s instructive to consider how little Asia has in common with N. America or the EU in this segment.

Jason Calcanis at Web 2.0

China Internet Japan

Japanese SNS Site Mixi Releases Chinese Language Version

I will be pleasantly surprised if Mixi gets any traction in China. China already has a competitive market for social networks and it’s not clear what benefit there will be in using an SNS that is popular in Japan (considering the enmity Chinese online users have for Japan and anything Japanese.)

Japanese social network service (SNS) site Mixi has released a Chinese language site at, reports Sohu. The site offers functions for blogs, photos, groups and messaging and is operated by Shanghai Mixiu Network Technology, the sole partner for Mixi’s China SNS service, said the report. Reports in February said Mixi planned to establish a Shanghai subsidiary to enter the China market.

Japanese SNS Site Mixi Releases Chinese Language Version

China Internet News

China spying on Skype messages

The New York Times reports that Surveillance of Skype Messages Found in China.

Are you surprised that a) the Chinese govt. is spying on and filtering Skype traffic to China, and b) that the Chinese government’s surveillance servers were mis-configured such that Canadian human-rights activists were able to download and analyze copies of the data in question?

This quote in particular is precious:

“I can see an arms race going on,” said Pat Peterson, vice president for technology at Cisco’s Ironport group, which provides messaging security systems. “China is one of the more wired places of the world and they are fighting a war with their populace.”

This quote is amusing because it is Cisco itself (albeit not the Ironport group which was an acquisition) that sold the equipment to the Chinese government to enable the government to implement their “Golden Shield Project or the Great Firewall of China.”

Ebay’s response is grossly inadequate considering the ramifications of this news.

China Internet Japan Korea News Search

where Google is not leading

The FT has a good overview of some markets where Google is not leading search including China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Czech Rep. In addition to these, you can add Taiwan too. If there are other markets where Google isn’t leading, please leave a comment.

Yandex, which handles 46 per cent of search queries in Russia, has been preparing since the spring for a listing on the US stock market. Seznam, which controls 63 per cent of Czech searches, has been the subject of a number of buy-out approaches, according to two internet industry insiders.
Along with just three others, these represent the only local companies that have prevented the global search business from turning into “Planet Google.”
Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea each handle about 60 per cent of internet searches in their respective countries, while Yahoo Japan claims slightly more than half of its local search market.

Google still struggling to conquer outposts