AOL, MySpace click with Asia

Web giants launch regional sites

Time Warner this week launched a Taiwanese version of AOL, while MySpace went live with a Korean edition.

These are the latest examples of U.S. online giants localizing their products to compete with well-entrenched incumbents in Asian markets.

AOL said its site is “designed and created specifically to address the increasingly sophisticated needs of Taiwan’s Internet users.” It combines AOL free email and instant messaging, safety features and localized content in Chinese, sourced from content in the region, including United Daily News and Phoenix New Media.

“The launch of AOL.tw is just the beginning of an ongoing effort to provide consumers in Taiwan with the services and content they want,” said Norman Koo, VP-general manager for Greater China.

News Corp.’s MySpace Tuesday launched its Korean social-networking program, complete with new features called “minilogs,” which allow short diary jottings.

MySpace design and features have been extensively reworked to local tastes.

“We’ve done a lot of studies on what went wrong with companies (which launched in Korea and failed) and why,” MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said in Seoul.

Company is late into the market. South Korea has one of the world’s highest penetrations of broadband Internet, near ubiquitous mobile Internet and widely deployed mobile TV.

MySpace Korea faces a deeply entrenched local competitor, SK Communications’ Cyworld, which claims 18 million subscribers in a population of 49 million.

Time Warner is also planning a dedicated Hong Kong version of AOL with Chinese-language content from Phoenix New Media, China News and others.

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