Why China’s Web Copycats Succeed
Paul Delinger gives some background on why copycat Chinese Internet applications can flourish, for China Tracker:
When it comes to Internet and mobile application development, it is often said that the most popular model is called C2C, which stands for “copy to China.” In simple terms, this boils down to copying a successful application in the west, such as YouTube (Chinese versions include Tudou, Youku and Ku6), Facebook (whose Chinese versions include Kaixin and Renren), Twitter, which has become a hit application for Sina.com in the form of Sina Weibo (which means mini-broadcast) and for copycats of Foursquare, the hit location-tagging site for mobile phones.
But there is another aspect to the C2C model which accounts for its success: Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare were blocked by the Chinese government’s Great Firewall of China (#GFW) first. Before they were blocked, all of these applications had large numbers of users in China. In the case of Facebook, there were a large number of users in China before it was blocked, starting with westerners in China, but then spreading to local Chinese users. After it was blocked, Chinese local user numbers fell off precipitously; this helped the new Chinese copycat applications to grow in numbers, while the original western applications retained users who were mainly from the west who preferred using English and had access to a VPN which gave them access through proxy servers.