I wrote a post on TechCrunch about the fight for China’s social graph:
In the West, the battle for the social graph is over for now. Facebook is the undisputed champion. All my Western friends use Facebook, and many are addicted.
“If Facebook is the world’s social graph, then QQ (Tencent’s instant messenger) is China’s social graph,” says Hong Bo (a.k.a Keso), China’s most famous tech blogger. In China, Tencent is the longstanding champ, but its title is being disputed by Sina, one of China’s earliest portal sites.
…Sina Weibo is a tremendous product that should maintain its audience of white-collars and influence in Chinese media. But it’s tough to knock out the champ. Tencent knows when to defend (Tencent Weibo), and is still nimble and creative enough to attack (Weixin). Its social graph is over ten years in the making and shows no signs of letting up now.
Sina’s chances of challenging Tencent for the mass market are gone. Sina Weibo looks secure with its white-collar audience and media influence, but beyond that all bets are off. Heightened censorship and real-name registration add to its concerns. Moreover, Sina Weibo’s social gaming platform has struggled to gain traction while Tencent’s is taking off: “Social Games: Sorry Sina, Tencent Will Take That Too.”
So what’s next for Sina Weibo? It looks like it’s back to basics: advertising.
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