April 27, 2007 |
MySpace introduced itself in China yesterday after months of speculation about the social networks entry into the 137 million user market. MySpace China will be a locally owned and operated company run by CEO Luo Chuan, a former Microsoft executive. According to Chan MySpace China will have the final decision on the operating model and product strategy for this new arm of the world's most popular social networking site.
Recent entries into the Chinese market have met with either a great wall or ultimate failure as we have seen, but MySpace China claims that they will present a different presence unlike any of the other multinational efforts. William Bao Bean told the AFP/Yahoo! that he thought MySpace is trying to distance themselves from previous blunders made by other multinational efforts into China's Internet market. He also pointed out that there is not one really evident example of a foreign Internet company doing business successfully in China at this point.
According to this latest news, MySpace Inc. will still be represented with three members on the board of directors of MySpace China. Luo assured the press that MySpace will strive to meet the specific demands of its Chinese users and that there is a differentiation from the way other companies have used contract based structures with local entities in order to run businesses in China. Personally I don't see the differentiation between a contractual yes man and a non-contractual one especially given the three board positions mentioned. You can cut an apple 100 ways but it is still an apple, and just saying it is so will not differentiate the company's direction against the political current.
MySpace may have a slightly better chance than Google or YouTube because a separate and segregated market for MySpace users would be a good deal easier to maintain and build. MySpace China can really just serve the Chinese market because the main MySpace aspect will not have to be superimposed onto the Chinese variant. At least this is how the Chinese variant will approach the platform if they are smart.
So, I expect the people in China can expect to see Chairman Mao's space on the new entity amongst the other Communist Party spaces, but at least the users will have some freedom of expression however curtailed. Even so, the really big draw of MySpace in the first place was to ingrain a sense of user empowerment onto the psyche of its members. Perhaps MySpace China can work a deal with the government where everyone is forced to go to their spaces every day.