Much of this blog's coverage centers on technology and companies based in the U.S, particularly in Silicon Valley.
However, thriving tech communities exist around the globe, from Toronto to Tel Aviv, and the success of internationally-based web products serve as a reminder to all of us that innovation knows no borders. Check out our picks for the top 10 international web products of 2009 and let us know your favorite international apps in the comments.
Spotify, Stockholm, Sweden
By September 2009, we were calling Spotify "one of the most highly anticipated applications" that had not yet come to the U.S.
This lightweight streaming music app made headlines consistently throughout the year. They closed huge amounts of funding in August. And later that month, the company got an iPhone app through the App Store approval process - even though it competes with iTunes - thanks in part to the FCC. In fact, you, our readers, said it was one of the most exciting apps of the year in a survey we conducted this fall.
There's more good news, according to co-founder Daniel Ek: "We aren't interested in just trying to hype the company and then flipping it," he wrote in a blog post this October. "We are in this for the long haul."
And we look forward to reporting on Spotify's successes in 2010, as well.
FreshBooks, Toronto, Canada
We first wrote about Freshbooks late last fall. The Web-based invoicing software quickly became one of the most popular in its class; within a few months, Salesforce launched a FreshBooks Connector that took advantage of the startup's APIs. Though FreshBooks had seen many similar partnerships with other CRM systems, the stamp of approval from Salesforce confirmed FreshBooks as a leading product in its category.
Jolicloud, Paris, France
This lightweight Internet OS for netbooks allows simple access to web- and desktop-based applications. Although products of this kind are currently all the rage and becoming quite common, Jolicloud offers something unique: The inherently social ability to "subscribe" to other users of the OS and see what apps they're using. It's beautiful, it's one of the reasons we're excited about Linux on the netbook, and it's in private alpha. Request your invite now!
Hootsuite, Vancouver, Canada
This real-time stat-tracking, link-shortening, list-making, tweet-scheduling, multiple accounts-handling Twitter app does it all. Last month, we named HootSuite one of our top 10 apps for small-business success. The app also integrates Facebook profiles and, as of today, Facebook Pages.
With less than half a million dollars in angel funding, OrSiSo emerged in 2009 as an interesting - and occasionally confusing - AIR-based app for organizing social networks. The company's name stands for "Organize, Simplify, Socialize." The product accomplished all three goals so well that it won an award in February for introducing "status-quo-challenging new ideas" and representing Singapore positively to the international market of users, investors and media.
Next page: International Web Products 6-10
Moshi Monsters, London, UK
This simple social game of Tamagotchi-like pets was launched by parent company Mind Candy in 2007 but has seen a tenfold traffic increase this year, with unique visits approaching the half-million mark. This cute and casual MMO competes against such giants as Mafia Wars and FarmVille, yet it doesn't rely on a major social network to get users. We hear it's also being used in the classroom to teach fiction and creativity.
Wetoku, Seoul, Korea
When we tested Wetoku this summer, we were thrilled with the instant, lightweight video recording capabilities of this app. Intended as a "talking heads" app for long-distance video interviews - a welcome boon to bloggers in particular - the app found itself in steep competition with tech giants like Skype as much as hungry startups like TinyChat. It had drawbacks, such as low video quality. But the benefits, such as instantly embeddable content, seemed to outweigh the negative factors. "This is the kind of thing that would make remote, instant video journalism possible," we wrote.
Tweetmeme, Reading, UK
Tweetmeme is one of our favorite tools for filtering noise in the real-time web. It's also recently surpassed the traffic benchmark of 1M monthly unique visitors. The site surfaces the most popular links and retweets on Twitter, and this year, it found a revenue stream, launched a real-time version, and trounced its competition.
Jimdo, Hamburg, Germany
Jimdo was founded a couple years ago but only recently came up on our radar. A drop-dead simple website editor, multimedia DAM (digital assets management) system and CMS, this company saw significant growth - including reaching the 1 million users mark - in 2009.
Twingly, Linköping, Sweden
Twingly launched in 2007 with the promise that users would "never spend time on irrelevant news again." But it wasn't until this year that we became aware of this Swedish startup. At our real-time summit, their CEO led a brilliant breakout session on how to filter the firehose of available online information. Solving information overload is one of the primary concerns of real-time web enthusiasts, and Twingly is one startup dedicated to solving this problem.
Busuu, Madrid, Spain
Readtwit, Tel Aviv, Israel
Webjam, London, UK
LouderVoice, Cork, Ireland
My6Sense, Herzliya Pituach, Israel
Huddle, London, UK
Wonga, London, UK
Face.com, tel Aviv, Israel
Wakoopa, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Special thanks to our friends around the world who helped us with this list: Zee Kane of The Next Web, Ayelet Noff (a.k.a. Blonde 2.0), Ewan Spence and Ezra Butler.
If you feel we left out an important international web app, please let us know about it in the comments!
ReadWriteWeb's Best Products of 2009: