As a first timer at SXSW one of the things that has surprised me is how much of a focus for this U.S.-based event is… what’s happening in the U.S.
OK, that sounds entirely logical, but hear me out. There are a lot of non-U.S. participants here, certainly hundreds from the UK. I’ve also met Germans, Italians, Brazilians, Belgians, Norwegians….and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
More importantly, though, the Internet is global and one of the incredibly powerful things that has happened over the last few years is how people in a range of regions and countries are evolving it in different ways. There are social channels emerging in China like Tencent and others that have grown at an astonishing rate; Orkut might trail Facebook in the U.S. but it is huge in Brazil; and India and China will drive social network growth this year according to a new eMarketer report.
It might be the panels I’ve chosen to go to and the things I’m interested in that mean I’m missing out on international insights, and there have been presentations covering social media use in Mexico and Brazil for instance which I missed. For sure though there’s a potential upside to thinking globally as well as locally.
Hearing about what’s happening in other countries could throw up some new business opportunities for entrepreneurs given the highly competitive U.S. and European marketplace. With around 300 million people living in the U.S. against a global population of 7 billion, isn’t it logical to look further afield?
Maybe over time we’ll see the emergence of SXSW East for the Asia-Pacific, or SXSW Asia. Or even some new events that take a whole new direction. Or maybe the Chinese, Brazilians, Indians and others will simply get on and do their own thing. Maybe some of these services will scale globally, maybe others will stay local and serve one market really well. I don’t have all the answers but I do think these are some interesting questions.