For those that haven’t been reading Inside Facebook in recent months, Facebook is growing by leaps and bounds internationally. And as you may expect, entrepreneurs are taking to the Facebook Platform to reach Facebook’s large and growing audiences in Europe, South America, and Asia.
Today, one of those international Facebook Platform startups, 6 waves, is sharing details on its application portfolio publicly for the first time with Inside Facebook. The company, based in Hong Kong, was started early last year to serve the growing Facebook market in Asia. Today, 6 waves has built a portfolio of over 60 applications across multiple languages that collectively reach over 22 million monthly active users on Facebook, according to AppData.
That makes 6 waves the 4th largest Facebook application developer by total reach – behind RockYou, Slide, and Zynga, and ahead of the likes of Playfish and Causes.
How has 6 waves gotten so big? Essentially, the company has applied concepts that have worked well on Facebook to international markets by developing templatized applications and social games and translating them into the most popular languages in areas where Facebook is growing quickly.
For example, 6 waves’ Pet Contest application is available in Chinese, German, Italian, Spanish, and French. And 6 Waves’ Gangster Wars application is also available in Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Turkish, and Italian. The company has developed several other applications for specific regional markets.
Rex Ng, Co-Founder and Managing Director of 6 waves, says that while the company was originally focused on developing applications specifically for the China/Hong Kong audience, it has since decided to broaden its focus.
“After more exploration and research, we decided to include other markets such as Europe and South America. As a result, some of our apps started to resemble those in the Western markets. We believe that great apps have universal appeal and can transcend cultural differences,” Ng says.
However, monetization is of course quite challenging in many of these markets. Ng won’t disclose many details about revenues, but says the company is growing out of its advertising roots and developing transactional revenues.
“When we first started out, we relied more on advertising, but as our games become more mature and complex we started to incorporate more offers and virtual items,” Ng says.
Finally, Ng shares his perspective on Facebook’s challenges in China, where the company only reaches about 200,000 people.
“First, there is the language barrier. The majority of Chinese users are still not familiar with English, while users in Hong Kong are willing to engage with both English and Chinese apps,” Ng says. “Second, there is the cultural barrier. Hong Kong doesn’t have a local social networking platform aside from Facebook, but China has many large social networks to choose from, like Xiaonei and Kaixin. Even though Facebook has completed their simiplified Chinese translation, users will still prefer their home-grown culturally emphasized social network. It’s the same reason why Baidu is ahead of Google, and Taobao is ahead of eBay.”
In the end, 6 waves’ growth in recent months shows the potential available to entrepreneurs who are interested in reaching European, South American, and Asian markets on the Facebook Platform. We’ll continue to track emerging Facebook Platform companies around the globe for you here on Inside Facebook as 2009 progresses.