I was looking up some stuff today on our Bloomberg terminal (okay, it's a walled garden, but it still rocks, and I'm not sure if people outside the financial world appreciate how much it serves as a communications hub for salespeople and traders - people were saying "Bloomberg me" long before they started saying "Skype me"), when I stumbled across a story saying that homegrown Polish VoIM giant Gadu-Gadu (which apparently means something like "jabber", "chit-chat", or "talktalk" [though I'm not sure they'd appreciate the association at this point - thanks Keith]) is going to go for an IPO. More as I find out more.
Check out this lovely photograph from the Gadu-Gadu blog, where he winner of a company-sponsored contest appears to have stumbled across (presumably) a cafe while on holiday in Cyprus (his prize in the contest), which has a sign outside announcing free internet access and a number of VoIM options. Gadu-Gadu is mentioned prominently (notice he is also pointing to his own T-shirt, which says "Gadu-Gadu"), in fact more prominently than a couple of other "global" household names. Notice that Skype, apparently a very Polish phenomenon, isn't mentioned at all. I guess this points up, probably more for the American audience which might be tempted to believe that the usual suspects have cleaned up globally, that there are still pockets of the world which have not been subdued.
UPDATE: A mega-uber value reader in Poland pointed out my stupidity in the earlier version of this post, wherein I initially assumed that the man in the photo was the founder of the company. Indeed, it was a stupid assumption to make. My informant continues, very informatively:
"The Polish internet is quite interesting. As you probably found out, Gadu–Gadu is by far the most popular IM communicator in Poland. Global IM software is rather not popular, and other Polish based communicators are also much less accepted (most are compatible with Gadu – Gadu). The GG phenomenon is caused by the fact that it was the first Polish communicator (first version delivered on 2000 15th August, author was inspired by ICQ). Besides it was easy to use, though not advanced and easy to sniff. The specific character of the "Polish Internet" is mostly visible when one looks at traffic stats. Until Q1 2006 a local player, onet.pl (this site was founded by a Polish based PC manufacturer, every machine shipped by this company had the site address imprinted below the monitor display – a few years ago the portal was separated from the PC producer), has been the site with the highest reach, now it's losing out to google.pl (but only when reach is taken into consideration).
Other high-ranked sites are also of Polish origin - global players, except for Google, are quite far down in the stats (short guide to vocabulary: zasięg = reach among Polish Internet population; czas = time spent on the site; odsłona = number of times the site was loaded). And going back to Skype, it is used rather for international voice communication (it became popular because of relatively high charges for international calls in Poland), whereas Gadu-Gadu is used almost only for instant messaging, though it is VoIP-enabled (GG Nagłos). Skype is used by the relatively young Polish population, among others, to speak with friends from abroad (train their language skills using SkypeMe), so IMHO it is not just about the Polish Diaspora around the world.