Fail Whale, Meet the Chinese Dragon
The Washington Post blog has a brief profile of Sina Weibo microblog service and looks at how the company is succeeding where Twitter is failing:
Weibo is by far the most popular micro-blogging service in China, with nearly 90% of the market. Young Internet users (the type of user that Twitter has trouble attracting) and celebrities alike embrace the service. Perhaps more importantly, at a time when the Chinese government cracks down on Twitter usage, it condones Weibo. As a result, by the end of the year, the total user base of Weibo may surpass the total number of Twitter users – and that’s despite the fact that Weibo launched in 2009, well after Twitter.
Far from being a Twitter copycat, Weibo has emerged as a force to be reckoned with, continually innovating according to the needs of its users. Chinese Web enthusiasts claim Weibo is now a superior Twitter alternative – with functionality like being able to embed multimedia content like videos within tweets; create and follow threaded conversations; and interact with mini-groups – that combines elements of blogging and Facebook. As a result, the user base of Weibo (including both celebrities and the youngest Internet users) has skyrocketed in size and its parent company (something Twitter lacks), the Chinese portal Sina.com, is rumored to be close to an IPO for Weibo – the type of market exit strategy that has thus far eluded the Twitter team.