Home Facebook to Crowdsource Chinese Translation – China Launch Imminent?

Facebook to Crowdsource Chinese Translation – China Launch Imminent?

Following on from our Q&A with Benjamin Joffe about how Facebook compares to top Asian social networks, Kaiser Kuo from Ogilvy China Digital Watch reported today that Facebook users in China “received a message on their main pages this morning asking them to help out with the translation of the site into simplified Chinese”. Kaiser calls this a “a very Web 2.0 approach to the arduous task of translating the site.” This is the latest example of speculation that Facebook is about to enter the booming China market.

Also fueling rumors that Facebook will launch in China is a report from Marketwatch stating that Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing has increased his personal investment in Facebook to more than US$100 million. Sounds impressive, however his initial investment had been $60 million for just 0.4% of the company – remember it has a $15 billion valuation. So he probably hasn’t even cracked 1%.

Benjamin told us in our interview that currently “Facebook has almost no presence in the three markets we cover: China, South Korea and Japan.” In China, QQ is the dominant player with 300 million active accounts. MySpace has a presence in China, but according to the Forbes report linked above, it “hasn’t been able to steal significant market share from any of the top Chinese social-networking sites since it launched in China a year ago.”

We reported in November that Facebook made an $85 million offer to purchase Zhanzuo.com, a leading Chinese social network with 7 million users. Nothing appeared to come of that though.

Forbes noted that Facebook currently has 247,000 members from China. If you browse Facebook, you’ll come across Chinese language users in Facebook. So this move by Facebook to crowdsource the site translation would be one step in formalizing that user base. But there’s still the matter of monetizing and doing business development in China, which would require an office and staff there.

Can Facebook Be Competitive in China?

It would be fascinating to see Facebook try to enter China, a Web market that is very tough to succeed in for Western companies. This was one of the main themes to come out of the recent Media 08 conference in Sydney, at which I met both Benjamin and Kaiser. Indeed a presentation at Media 08 by Jonathan Haagen, an analyst from the Economist Intelligence Unit, was entitled Why Western Tech Companies Fail in China(!) I’ve embedded it below, because it’s well worth Facebook’s execs reading it 😉

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.