Keywords: business models, computer-mediated communities, customer integration, organisational models, virtual communities, web based communities, China, software development, professional communities, dynamic communication, information sharing, community cohesion, value chain, revenue generation
An innovative model of a computer-mediated professional community: China software developer net
The emergence of computer-mediated communities rises from people's needs to gather and participate in informal public spaces in everyday life and their primordial wish to look for a sense of 'community'. Internet service providers set up privately owned platforms in the internet and people join in voluntarily for sharing information about the specific topics of their common interest. Using a case study approach, we present in this paper the organisation and business model of China Software Developer Net, one of the most successful virtual professional communities in China, with more than one million members in early 2006. We discuss how the community platform was designed to build up a dynamic communication environment facilitating information sharing and enhancing community cohesion. In particular, we highlight the underlying business model showing how the community service operator makes use of the CSDN virtual community to build up a diversified business portfolio, making this virtual community the core component of its value chain and generating sustainable revenues from multiple sources.