On July 19th Facebook allegedly filed a copyright lawsuit against German copycat StudiVZ, in what they claim is an infringement of Facebook’s “look, feel, features and services”. The International Herald Tribune has picked up this story and brings a former StudiVZ senior executive up to the stage. He revealed that Facebook had been negotiating for months to buy the German social network. This didn’t work out and now both parties are on their way to the court house.
StudiVZ ten times the size of Facebook.de
The German version of Facebook was launched in March, after 2000 German users voluntarily fixed the translating job in less than two weeks. Yet so far, Facebook hasn’t managed to attract a large German audience. StudiVZ had 12.2 million users in June, which is about ten times of the size of Facebook.de. So like my co-editor Patrick de Laive predicted in January; an acquisition of StudiVZ would immediately solve Facebook’s German problems.
“Facebook may have the superior technology, but it doesn’t have the users in Germany,” said the executive to the IHT, “That is what Facebook wants with StudiVZ.”
Many times 85 million euros
What makes this story extra interesting, is that StudiVZ was bought by the large German media company Holtzbrinck Group for around 85 million euros. Facebook has to pay several times this price. Apparently, Facebook wasn’t willing to accept this bid and now uses the copyright lawsuit as a encouragement for the Holtzbrinck Group to sell the German clone.
So why isn’t Facebook.de popular?
So much for the business details, let’s touch a different subject now. Why isn’t Facebook popular in Germany? Well, for the same reason Facebook isn’t hitting it off in Holland. The local network was there first. People have gone through all the trouble of connecting to their friends. So why would they – all of a sudden – switch to an international version?
There’s of course the group of people with a higher education who join Facebook to keep in touch with people they’ve met during international exchange programs. But the majority of German and Dutch people are satisfied with StudiVZ and Hyves. They can send messages to their friends, connect with old classmates, what more to ask for?