As always, Fred’s blog is a pleasure to read. This time more so, because it is an issue close to heart.
He has just published a post titled: Does Rest Of World Matter More Than The US? in which he says:
What this means to me is that web services that are highly international today should invest in fully localizing their user experience and then start thinking about monetizing outside of the US. Start with local partners and then start putting people on the ground in your best international markets.
Rather that the conventional wisdom, as Fred suggests, that, “international usage cannot be monetized as well as US traffic”, I think it is the hesitation on part of these web companies to apply different business models in different regions.
Just yesterday, I was cribbing that while Apple is gladly selling iPhones and iPods in India, the India store is really shabby. Resident Indians cannot buy music in the India Store. Even MobileMe is sold in physical stores or through the Singapore online Store. Nokia and some of the mobile service providers are doing very well selling music downloads in India. And I don’t think it is a DRM issue as it is made out to be.
Facebook, Twitter and those guys have a better chance if they wake-up earlier as Fred suggests in his post. I am not sure just localising the experience will be enough though, while it is an important attribute for success in non-US markets. Interestingly, Godrej, has launched gojiyo.com – India’s answer to Second Life. Knowing Godrej, there is a business model to it, though it has yet to present itself very well.
India at least, and I suspect the other three of the BRIC too) are a volume and a patience game and few of the players have both the qualities, or are ready to investing in them. And I believe this applies not just to web companies, but others too.