I just returned from a trip to Shanghai, and in case you didn't know anyway, here's my No. 1 insight: China scales.
Let's take QQ.com as an example, the leading Chinese online social network. The site is reported to have more than 300 million active accounts. That is eight times the member base of Facebook--and it's the same size as the U.S. population.
What's also remarkable (and different from the Western social networks) is QQ's monetization. Facebook posted revenue of $150 million for 2007 (and according to Plus8star a loss of $50 million); MySpace.com (purchased by News Corp. for $560 million) is projected to generate $750 million in revenue this year; and Bebo (purchased by AOL for $850 million) had revenue of just $20 million in 2007. While QQ reported revenue of $523 million and an astonishing operating profit of $224 million in 2007. The revenue distribution is unusual, too: 60 percent of the revenue came from services like games, an additional 21 percent from mobile services like ringtones, and only 13 percent from online advertising.
Do added value services trump ad based revenue models?