MySpace launches test in China

News Corp.'s MySpace launched a test in China this week, extending the popular social network into the one of the fastest-growing regions of the globe, the companies involved said on Thursday. MySpace China is a locally owned, operated and managed company that has secured investment from Rupert Murdoch's MySpace Inc., publisher IDG and China Broadband Capital Partners L.P., a fund operated by Edward Tian, the former chief of China Netcom Group. Social networks like MySpace and Facebook let users share pictures, music, videos and blogs. Popularized by teenagers interested in music, MySpace attracted close to 100 million unique users in March, according to comScore Media Metrics. China Capital Partners' Luo Chuan, the former head of Microsoft Corp.'s MSN China, will be the chief executive of MySpace China. "Based on the MySpace global brand and technology platform, we will develop products and features that are tailored to today's Chinese citizens," Luo said in a prepared statement. MySpace China faces stiff competition from major local players including Sina Corp. and Sohu. Sina had 20 percent of China's online ad market in the first half of 2006, iResearch said. A representative for MySpace China declined to specify which of the investors is the controlling shareholder or the percentage each investor contributed. The highly anticipated launch is part of MySpace's aggressive global expansion strategy that has seen the launch of a division targeting Latin American countries and a U.S. Spanish-language site this week. It will operate in about 20 global regions including Germany, Japan and Spain by the middle of the year. News Corp. struck a joint venture deal last November with Japan Internet and telecoms group Softbank Corp. to launch a version of MySpace in Japan. The China region site is adapted from the U.S. version but "is not yet optimized to fully meet the needs of Chinese users and we continue to improve products and services," Luo said. The new logo for the site is translated as "Friend You. Friend Me."

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