Following an excellent article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Benny Evangelista about Friendster focusing efforts on Southeast Asia, here is a quick map of Asia’s dominant Social Networks.

Data for this is based on the most credible sources we could find, but would be keen if anyone has other information.

I have written previously about Facebook trumping Friendster in Indonesia (largely due to a great mobile app for Facebook), but Evangelista’s article has some great details.

I would not count Friendster as finished. Yahoo! already proved, in Taiwan and in Hong Kong, that a niche national strategy can work in Asia. Good luck to you Friendster! (It will be so much more interesting to have multiple players out there, instead of just a Facebook world.)

Some Statistics on Friendster in Asia:

– Friendster counts 115 million members worldwide, a far cry from the 300 million registered members of Facebook, which has quickly gained ground in Southeast Asia.

– 90 percent of Friendster traffic comes from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

– Friendster’s biggest stronghold is the Philippines, with more than 12 million active users per month. About 7,000 people showed up for a “Pinoy Friendster Day” event at a Manila-area mall on Aug. 15.

– Internet monitoring company comScore reports Friendster traffic in Southeast Asia dropped from 32.6 million unique monthly visitors in August 2008 to 13.7 million this August, while Facebook zoomed from 24.8 million to 71.1 million. Friendster had slipped even below MySpace, with 15.1 million, while Twitter surged from 600,000 to 10.3 million. The time frame roughly coincides with Facebook’s rollout of several language-specific sites, including the Philippines and Malaysia in October, Thailand in November and Vietnam in December. Kimber discounts comScore’s numbers, saying they don’t account for a large portion of Friendster’s traffic from Internet cafes and mobile devices.

Back when Friendster beat Facebook
Computer programmer Jonathan Abrams is credited with launching the modern social media revolution when he created Friendster in 2002. Within months of its premiere in March 2003, Friendster had 3 million registered users and became a darling of the tech crowd. Since then, Friendster’s thunder has been stolen first by MySpace and then by Facebook.

Who runs Friendster?
The privately held company hasn’t turned a profit and is actively seeking a buyer. Richard Kimber, who took over as CEO in August 2008, took over just as Friendster closed a $20 million round of financing led by venture capital firm IDG Ventures. Kimber previously was Google’s South Asia regional manager.

Forrester’s take on Friendster
“The game is pretty much over here in the United States,” Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff told The Chronicle.

What is the plan for Southeast Asia?
Under Kimber, Friendster has opened new offices in Manila, Sydney and Singapore and hired about 70 employees to handle regional sales and marketing. The company’s senior engineering team remains in Mountain View. In the coming weeks, Friendster plans to launch redesigned sites tailored to each country, using strategies that have propelled other social networks in Asia.

Can you hear the music?
One focus will be on local musical artists and bands, while another will be on social gaming, he said. The company has also launched programs allowing members to transfer money directly to each other or access the site as part of a wireless data plan.

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20 comments

  1. gwong

    This map is much needed so far..

    just hope you can keep up the good work and keep updating it as much as you can!

    many thanks

    @GarethWong

  2. JF_Amadei

    The final version of the map is just amazing !

  3. Hey Jean-Francois! You totally deserve credit for the hours of research going into this chart! I should have said: Data by @tortue, design by @timho. Publicity by @thomascrampton

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  6. As an update to your post, Facebook has surpassed Friendster in the Philippines in terms of uniques, pages views, total visits, average visits per user and average time on site around early Q4 2009. Alexa showed Facebook on top too there.

    Philippines -a country dear to me, since I've lived in Manila in '09- also boasts one of the highest Facebook adoption rate (i.e. new accounts) in the world (I think Indonesia was surpassing it, but might have changed).

    I think the Friendster people I had to chance to exchange with while there clearly realized it.

    I'll take the time to review some of the latest numbers when I get the chance.

    As usual, thanks for your insightful posts and tweets.

  7. As an update to your post, Facebook has surpassed Friendster in the Philippines in terms of uniques, pages views, total visits, average visits per user and average time on site around early Q4 2009. Alexa showed Facebook on top too there.

    Philippines -a country dear to me, since I've lived in Manila in '09- also boasts one of the highest Facebook adoption rate (i.e. new accounts) in the world (I think Indonesia was surpassing it, but might have changed).

    I think the Friendster people I had to chance to exchange with while there clearly realized it.

    I'll take the time to review some of the latest numbers when I get the chance.

    As usual, thanks for your insightful posts and tweets.

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