Other sites can compete with Facebook – in Asia

Yes, there is Google+ and MySpace, but don’t you ever get the feeling that Facebook is the only happening social networking site in town?

While this may be true in North America, the social networking scene is quite different overseas, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, where local, gaming-based social networks are all the rage.  

And while Facebook claims over 750 million active users, this represents only half of the estimated 1.5 billion social network users in 2011 – a figure expected to exceed a staggering 2.5 billion by 2016.

“Facebook has had tremendous success, but select markets such as China, Japan, and South Korea remain challenges to the veritable social networking juggernaut,” senior ABI analyst Michael Inouye told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

“In addition, even in countries where Facebook leads, the differences between market shares are often not as dramatic as they are in the U.S.”

According to Inouye, casual gaming is actively blocking the dominance of Facebook in some of the above-mentioned countries.

For example, Tencent, Cyworld, and GREE are among the market leaders in their respective countries (China, South Korea, and Japan), with each company operating in both the social networking and online gaming markets.

Unsurprisingly, the companies have clinched a number of lucrative partnerships, which further serve to heighten the barriers to Facebook entry.  

“The social networking value chain also extends beyond the SNS alone, impacting a myriad of content providers, device manufactures, and platform developers alike,” explained ABI analyst Jason Blackwell.

“In fact, social networking is starting to diffuse to all facets of the connected world – although computers remain the primary social networking tool.”

However, Blackwell emphasized that mobile devices will prove to be an “essential ingredient” in the development and evolution of social networking. 

“This is especially true in developing markets where mobile broadband is expected to help drive Internet connectivity – although this is applicable to some developed markets like Japan as well. 

“Mobile devices will also play a key role in the connected CE market, working in conjunction with fixed devices for interactive features like gaming, polling/voting, content sharing and general user interface applications,” he added.