I guess I saw this one coming. On November 5th, I received the following email notice:
Thank you to all members with Cyworld.
Due to Cyworld shuts down US service, US Cyworld will no longer be able to service.
We sincerely apologize for shutting down the service with unavoidable reason.
Before US cyworld close the service, you will continue to access to US cyworld contents but not
purchase items. Also, you will not use your acorns.
If you have unused acorns, you will be given a full refund for paid acorns only.
Refunds and data backup service is in progress, using the acorn will no longer be able to purchase for miniroom items, skins, etc.
@ Schedule for closing US Cyworld service
Due to Data Back-up and closing service issues, the service will be unavailable.
* Shop service will be unavailable since Nov 03, 2009
o Club service, Profile photo/data upload serivce will be unavailable since Nov 23, 2009
While I loved the oh-so-cute “minime” (avatar) and “miniroom” (avatar’s house) that users could design for their pages (I couldn’t help but share mine, below)– the only reason why I signed up for Cyworld was so that I could connect with my Korean friends (plus I was curious.) Unfortunately, because Cyworld actually chose to separate these two networks geographically (can you imagine facebook doing this?)- it eliminated the whole point of using the site.
I found out today from a fellow blogger that you can sign up for the Korean Cyworld site– and (get this) they have recently eliminated the requirement that you send in a copy of your passport for approval before you get to sign on…
My takeaway: Network effects in social media are not to be ignored. Unless you have something compelling to offer, are focusing on a market niche or are first-to-market, don’t assume you can start a platform at zero and take on an already saturated market. Use all the network connections you can. Think: would you build a new line of fax machines using machine language incapable of working with any other models– including your own? No way.