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The World Market

The World Market

August 18, 2008 3:17 pmComments are Disabled

It occurred to me recently that web companies, more so than non-tech companies, need to keep in mind that the scalability of their application can go beyond its intended locale. Facebook, for instance, was rather shortsighted when it came to scaling its product internationally. It took several years for them to develop an international, translated version, and even then it was available only in four languages. As a result of Facebook’s delay, millions of users in China ended up signing up for a blatantly copied Facebook clone, and who knows how many other customers were lost worldwide.

The point is, the world internet market, especially in the developing world, is growing at a slower rate than that in the United States. For a lot of businesspeople, this means that it is a less important target market. But look at the numbers. There are over a billion people in China and India; sub-Saharan Africa will have 1.5 billion people by the end of 2050. These numbers, combined with spreading internet technology and a wealth of new entrepreneurial and technical talent from these countries, mean that the future market in “Web 2.0” is not in Palo Alto, but in Nairobi or Bangalore or Hainan.

I read a recent article that, due to the fact that cell phones are the primary communication tool for Kenyans, cell phone programming is a fast growing skill in Nairobi, Kenya, and more importantly, the Kenyans who use cell phones are a fast growing market. Meanwhile, thousands of companies in India’s Silicon Valley compete for prominence in the Western world, trying to sell their products to American and European buyers. But pretty soon, the Indian population will be demanding these services, too, and it is only a matter of time before the “Developing” world market explodes–and explodes big.

So, it’s really important for “Web 2.0” companies in the States to think big as well. Developers should consider installing translation packs into their sites–even for English–so they can scale into other language in the future. Most importantly, they should follow the example of Google and Microsoft and recruit global talent. The untapped global market is a sleeping giant right now, but when it gets revved up billions of people will be looking for the same level of internet reliability and satisfaction that the “modern” world has come to expect. When that happens, make sure your company is on top of it.

This is why I like the idea of midVentures. As a global integrator of sorts, we are not only helping ourselves bridge into a 21st century, international internet community but we are bringing the international community into the fold as legitimate–and competitive–players in the American market.

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