As Facebook marches towards a potential IPO, savvy (some might say shameless) entrepreneurs around the globe continue to develop foreign clones of the red-hot social network. Many of these have been around for years, and some have been very successful. Here is a look at 10 of the most profitable copycats so far.
A Facebook clone for the German market, the founders of StudiVZ have already sold the site for more than $100 million. StudiVZ is nearly identical to Facebook in terms of features, functionality, and interface.
The largest Facebook clone in China, Xiaonei sold to Oak Pacific Interactive, a Chinese Internet conglomerate, and was merged with another social network called 5Q.
The Russian Facebook makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s a clone; Vkontakte.ru almost exactly resembles Facebook’s design. Russia is also home to rutube.ru, a popular YouTube clone. Maybe a sign that existing social networks aren’t releasing Russian versions fast enough?
This Facebook clone is designed for India, and prominently features familiar Facebook features such as profiles, friends, groups, and classifieds. Ironically, the site features an embedded YouTube video on the homepage.
Student Social Network is a Facebook clone available in four different countries – Turkey, Russia, Germany, and Great Britain. Its success appears to have been limited, however.
The name roughly translates to the “Pupil Register”, and Schuelerregister.de is another German attempt to copy Facebook. The site is said to be getting a little traction, at least according to Alexa where it has had a 5-digit rank recently.
This German clone appears to be more intended for the 50+ set, but is worth noting as it claims more than 100,000 users.
Schueler.cc (your “community center”) is yet another German attempt at cloning Facebook, claiming more than 30,000 schools as part of its network. They have changed the look and feel a bit, but it’s still built around academic and regional networks.
Drawing inspiration in both features and name, StudentFace is a social network for the Australian market. They have added a feature similar to Facebook’s News Feed, allowing you “to see which one of your friends have updated their profiles and/or added friends.”
Last but not least, this Turkish Facebook clone also targets student networks. Google Translate wasn’t much help on this one, but the design is clearly Facebook-inspired.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Facebook must be blushing beat red. At this point, most of the clones will have trouble keeping up with Facebook’s rapid feature rollout, but that won’t stop them from trying to bring the basic model of collegiate and regional networks to their home countries. Those who do it well (Xiaonei, StudiVZ) have proven that a well-done copycat can not only be popular, but a viable means to getting rich quickly.