3 months ago, I predicted that Sina would launch multimedia sharing on Sina Weibo. And today that’s a reality, with the launch of voicemail tweets and direct video uploads. I also mentioned the possibility of them providing LBS (location based services)–and that service is now in closed beta testing: Sina Here (新浪这里 http://f.sina.com.cn).

Two years ago Sina was little more than a portal (albeit a large one), but it is now one of the top social networks in China and hands-down the most innovative. Moreover, the new innovations on the Weibo are far outpacing those on its western counterpart, Twitter. Multimedia weibos allows users to do two things that Twitter’s simple 140 characters tweets can’t offer:

  1. Voicemail Weibo (语音微博) – users can dial a service number on their mobile phones and record a message which will be uploaded and shared in their Weibo accounts (a voicemail weibo).
  2. Direct Video Upload – in Web version of Weibo when writing a new post user can now upload a video from their own computers (up to 200mb) instead of links from a video site.

What makes it perfect is when these multimedia weibos are posted with the video and recording files embedded into the posts with links to the origin and plugins for in-site play, which means that you can consume it all while staying on the same page.

Kai-Fu Lee's first voice recorded Weibo played in-site

Kai-Fu Lee took a humorous attempt in imitating sounds of motorcycle and Donald Duck, which can be played in-site with the embedded music player.

Screenshot of uploaded video playing in my Weibo page

Video upload is ported directly to Sina’s video site (video.sina.com.cn), it takes couple minutes of to upload. The result is shown here: the video plays perfectly with a description of it in the post.

Accessible on Mobile Devices

I also tested playback on my iPhone and Droid and they played perfectly supporting both HTML 5 and Flash. And mobile phone video upload is coming soon according to Sina Weibo’s product manager.

Sina Weibo is Pushing Innovation in Social Media

The Top "Share This" Sites in China Dec 2010 (source: JiaThis.com)

3 months ago, I posted Sina Weibo Launches Groups, Threatens China Social Networks. With this latest move, Sina Weibo continues to challenge more traditional SNS sites such as RenRen and Kaixin.

Twitter was the concept of SMS transfered to online status and transformed into a broadcasting channel. Sina Weibo built on that idea, but is adding far more social network features, like threaded comments (comments are shared even in reposts), social groups, photos sharing, and now voice recording and video uploading that can be accessed via desktop and mobile. In the 140 Chinese characters users can even insert emoticons to add a bit more flavor. According to the December 2010 statistics of the sharing tool JiaThis, the amount of links shared to Sina Weibo is 3 times of RenRen and KaiXin001, and 6 times that of its main microblog competitor, Tencent Weibo.

Weibo is the top priority for Sina–CEO Charles Chao still personally invites influential Chinese public figures to join. On Jan 24th, Yao Chen a Chinese actress bumped Oprah Winfrey off the world’s top 10 most followed micro-blog persons, as the first non-Twitter person to make on the list with almost 5 million followers (now 5.8 million). Sina’s success is kickstarting the next generation of SNS in this China.

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