Weibo's global prospects match up with the best

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, June 9, 2011
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Sina will launch the English-language service for its microblog platform, Weibo, by the end of this year for overseas users, according to a company spokesman Tuesday.

Since the Chinese have never provided an online social media platform for global communities before, the debut of Sina's English-language Weibo product is set to be an exciting essay in the craft.

Some Westerners are gloomy about Weibo's English service. "When it comes to exporting Weibo, the problem is not functions but values," wrote Evan Osnos, China correspondent for the New Yorker, on Tuesday. The English version of Weibo will be subject to Chinese regulations. This, in the eyes of some Western analysts, may propel investors to avoid Sina due to differing online cultures.

Sina can not be unaware of the challenges awaiting it in new markets. Common sense shows that a social networking website will not find new users unless it is highly localized.

Over the past two years, the explosive growth of Weibo users in China has been accompanied by the creating and rolling out of unique features, such as the ability to embed multimedia data, interaction with V-tag celebrity bloggers, polling programs and unfolding comment threads.

It is widely believed that Sina is outshining Twitter in its user-friendliness. The abovementioned innovations, instead of the initial imitation, serve as the key of Weibo's success in China. Sina has also attracted large number of people and institutions based overseas. It is worth imagining how far Sina can go in the global marketplace. Such Internet companies are the best indigenous examples for reaching out to the world, and their experiences will teach much to local businesses in the future.

For over a decade, the rule of thumb "copying first, innovating later" worked well for China's Internet service companies. But once these companies grow competitive, they naturally seek further vitality by penetrating global markets.

At the moment, Twitter is available in nine languages. It has more than 300 million users across the globe, and has 70 percent of its network flow from regions beyond US boundaries. This sets an example for the future trajectory of China's indigenous Internet businesses.

China's manufacturing companies have set foot on almost every region of the world. Society is looking forward to seeing the overseas journey of these Internet businesses.

We wish Sina the best of success in its new business and to bring back valuable experiences and lessons in its navigation overseas.

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