AOL: 14 Countries in 18 Months

A few weeks ago I wrote about AOL’s new portal for India. According to Reuters, or, Thomson, AOL is only just getting started.

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AOL plans to expand into 14 markets over the next two years. And this is in addition to the portals it recently launched for India, Netherlands, and Austria.

AOL is also opening an office in China, though is wisely treading carefully in a country that has proven to be a financial black hole for other Western media companies.

I’m glad to see AOL going all out on global expansion. It’s easy to sit back and assume that Google and Yahoo! portals dominate the world. But when you start to look at individual markets you realize that even Google is not the leading search engine everywhere — like in China or Russia.

Will we see an AOL Poland two years from now? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Of course, the key to success ultimately has less to do with going global than going local. That is, how can a new portal succeed against entrenched portals within a given country? Who must AOL partner with? Should it try a radically different design or should it follow the leaders? Should it target a specific demographic? What application can you offer that the other portals don’t already offer? One new “killer app” could change everything for AOL in an instant — and that app could come from anywhere.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

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