Friendster may not be fresh in your mind when it comes to social media, but the pioneering social nework is relaunching tomorrow. And if it looks like the site has a newly Asian focus, there's a reason for that. Friendster just got bought by an Asian company.
Reading about the network's rebranding campaign today, many met the changes with derision. (As Mediaite points out, the Asian population in America is less than 5%.)
While other networks have responded to Facebook's dominance by hunkering down into different niches, Friendster's updates seem to have split the difference between MySpace and Facebook features. Their new tagline, "Connecting Smiles," may not make any major connections over here, but it doesn't really have to.
At the beginning of this year, Friendster began targeting its business toward the Asian market, because the site has retained a good deal of popularity in the Philipinnes and Asia. And today it came out that Friendster will be sold to an Asian buyer by the end of the month.
As you can see in the site's promotional video, all of the actors appear to be Asian:
The new effort (and buyout) seems to make clear that Friendster is moving out of the English/American market. This comment from the video in particular seems to admit defeat:
"I mean, if everyone's there, woop de doo."
If Friendster has achieved relevance in the Asian market, it makes sense to develop there. The main thing that killed off Friendster usage in the states was a lack of stickiness on the site. After catching up with old friends, there wasn't much else to do. Facebook and MySpace have been trying to combat social irrelevance by building up activities on their pages and building partnerships with other entities online.
While other networks have responded to Facebook's dominance by hunkering down into different niches, Friendster's updates seem to have split the difference between MySpace and Facebook features. And if Friendster can use borrowed features to assert its dominance in the Asian market, it makes a lot more sense than fighting a losing battle where it started. No matter what kind of reaction Friendster gets in America, where the common reaction was much like this quote from Gizmodo:
I don't know about you guys, but I'm deleting my Facebook account tonight in anticipation. I hope all my friends will be waiting for me at Friendster! With any luck, they were too lazy to delete their accounts back when Friendster became totally irrelevant years ago.