WIRED NEWS -- Aug 08 -- Cyworld blends homepage building and social networking with other online activities, including Sims-like role-playing. It's owned by South Korea's SK Communications and jumped from 10 million to 13 million users in 2004. A quarter of the country's 48.2 million people have signed up, including 90% of the 24- to 29-year-old age group. Users get their own page, a virtual living room called a minihompy where they can create diaries, publish images, network, host legal background music and more. Members personalize their minihompy with virtual objects they purchase from Cyworld, and enhance it with up to 10 tracks of background music they can buy and play for visitors. 100,000 tracks a day are sold through Cyworld. Cyworld's online stores accounted for 80% of Cyworld's $54 million revenue in 2004, selling such digital goods as virtual furniture, page backgrounds and avatars. The word Cy in Korean means relationship. Cyworld uses real names for users' pages, so if people meet at a party, it's increasingly likely they'll swap Cyworld addresses, not phone numbers. People ask, 'Do you Cy?' Cyworld is spreading across Asia this year. It launched in China in June 2005, hopes to reach Japan in October and has Hong Kong and Taiwan on its to-do list. Cyworld U.S. is slated to launch in early 2006.
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