News Corp.'s MySpace.com has launched the latest of its international editions, MySpace Korea. Like many of its other regionally focused portals, MySpace Korea includes popular music and video content and social-networking profiles. No surprise there.
But in Korea, MySpace faces an extra snag: The small Asian nation is famously tech-adept, with broadband penetration and mobile technology seemingly light-years ahead of the U.S. (and here, MySpace doesn't exactly have a reputation as a technology leader, though it remains the most popular social-networking site). Other social-networking sites, like the virtual world Cyworld, already have a lock on the youth market. So what is MySpace doing? It's deliberately courting Korea's high-tech and digital-creative crowds.
MySpace Korea, as a result, has a sleeker design than most of its global brethren, as well as a few features created locally: a "Minilog" platform, which sounds a bit like Twitter-esque microblogging, and design "skins" created by Korean artists.
The site's official launch party, on Tuesday night, will be held at a design museum near Seoul's Hongik university; later in the week, MySpace will be holding a conference for developers at which Travis Katz, general manager of MySpace's international effort, will be speaking. Co-founder and CEO Chris DeWolfe has also traveled to Seoul to spread the word about the site launch.
MySpace has more at stake with its Korean launch, too: The site hopes that by broadening its base in Korea, it can take advantage of the country's tech talent as it attempts to catch up where rival social networks like Facebook have jumped ahead in innovation. More specifically, MySpace aims to win over Korean programmers to contribute to its OpenSocial-compatible developer platform, which launched last month.
Later in the week, MySpace plans to launch another site in another crucial tech market: India--which happens to be one of the hot spots for Google's social-networking site, Orkut. Surrounding the debut of MySpace India will be a developer "hackathon" in Bangalore as well as a rock concert in Mumbai.
Unlike its Korean counterpart, the beta site for MySpace India appears to be primarily English-language.