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Friendster Is Out to Make Friends



Some weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Friendster‘s Marketing Director Jeff Roberto at a blogger’s lunch meeting organised by The Digital Movement. Jeff was in town for ad:tech Singapore 2008 and he took the opportunity to meet up with some local bloggers such as Sheylara, Bernard Leong, TDM’s Howie Chang and Su Yuen, and Nicholas Aaron Khoo.

I have to be honest and say that I haven’t checked my Friendster account for a long time ever since it started having scaling issues and when pages took forever to load. And I’ve pretty much stuck on FaceBook ever since my friends and I migrated there.

So what’s new at Friendster? Jeff assured us that its troubles are mainly over, pointing out that its user base has grown to over 70 million registered users and is now the 7th largest website in terms of traffic (and the 3rd largest social network) on the planet. In fact, it’s the No. 1 social network in Asia.

It recently introduced Friendster Mobile (m.friendster.com), a mobile version that is accessible from any web-enabled mobile device and should be the first in a suite of forthcoming mobile offerings from the social network. Another recent feature is Fan Profiles, which anybody or group can use to build a fan base within the Friendster global community. Already, over 6 million Friendster users are connected to Fan Profiles such as slipper brand Havaianas and US band My Chemical Romance.

Friendster‘s Developer Program is also set to help the site grow (the network has been open since August 2006).  Launched in December 2007 (it is the 2nd social network to do so after FaceBook), the Developer Program‘s open revenue model – no revenue share means developers get to keep all revenue – is likely to encourage many independent developers to port their existing apps or create new ones for the Friendster platform. Every day, Friendster users install some 1/2 million apps from the more than 350 live apps available for download. I’m not sure how Friendster is set to compete with FaceBook in this area, but application developers should be the real winners in any case.

friendster apps

Friendster‘s latest moves may be a little belated, but should make them some newfound friends yet.

Bernard blogs about Friendster here, and Su Yuen here.