Facebook's Ongoing Clone Battle

Last week Facebook announced that it was suing StudiVZ, the German based copycat for running a “knock-off” version of the Facebook site. That comes a few months after the company launched in German. That’s not the only country that Facebook faces stiff competition from cloned social networks. In China, Xiaonei is the leading Facebook copycat and they have a massive war chest after receiving over $430 million in investments.

An AP article today highlighted a number of other clones that are competing against Facebook. In Russia, the social network Vkontakte already has over 14 million users. One Russian user of Facebook also claimed that the newly translated version of the site is “poor-quality Russian” thanks to the Translations application which lets users translate the site.

In many countries, Facebook is experiencing increasing traction but for those countries with existing social networks, it is much more difficult to convert users. One Facebook employee, Alex Moskalyuk, claimed that Facebook will spend its time innovating their product rather than chasing down competitors. While this month’s suit against StudiVZ goes against that trend, at f8 last week, one Facebook spokesman also emphasized that the focus continues to be on innovation.

While Facebook continues to grow at a rapid rate, the real question is if Facebook will decide to switch strategies once growth starts to slow.