Tag Archives: China

Will Facebook partner with Baidu to enter China?

The internets are ablaze tonight with a blockbuster rumor: Facebook will enter China. Luckily Facebook registered the domain name Facebook.cn in 2007, so it will not befall the same cruel fate that Groupon China faces with a Chinese clone at Groupon.cn.

Marbridge Consulting reports:

According to a microblog post by Hu Yanping, founder of Beijing-based market research firm Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI), Facebook has signed an official contract with a local Chinese Internet company to build a new social networking website in China. Hu added that the new website would not be integrated with Facebook.com.

Supreme China internet watcher Bill Bishop tweets:

hu yanping founded china net researcher dcci, may have inside info, has 450k weibo followers, “facebook has china deal” news spreading fast

Hu Yanping was the first to break the news about Google’s pullout from China last year so he’s a well-regarded source in the tech industry.

In his weibo post (screenshot aboveHu Yanping names “some company,” rather than Baidu specifically. My translation of his weibo:

Facebook is really on the eve of entering China, the contract has been signed, with some Chinese partner who will build the new site according to some model, but which will not completely connect to Facebook.com. Is Facebook doomed to die in China? [Note: The last bit plays on an unofficial transliteration of Facebook’s name into Chinese: “doomed to die.”]

But Marbridge continues:

Editor’s Note: Multiple industry sources have revealed to Marbridge that online search giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) is the “local Chinese Internet company” that will be working with Facebook and operating the new SNS website in China. In mid-February it was rumored that Baidu’s top management had visited Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley (see “Rumor: Baidu Visits Facebook in Silicon Valley,” MD 2/18/11 issue.)

The partner will NOT be Sina, contrary to popular speculation. Bill Bishop tweets:

Hu Yanping just replied 2 me on weibo that alleged Facebook China JV partner is NOT Sina $sina..wonder if rumors yesterday popped Sina $6?

AND

if facebook china jv rumor true, likely partners are alibaba, china mobile, sohu, baidu. china mobile might be an inspired choice

If you’ve read my previous pieces including Why Mark Zuckerberg Came to China and Why Facebook Will Not, you know this news would come as a shock to me! If true, Forbes’ Gady Epstein was clearly on the money when he wrote, Will Facebook Follow Zuckerberg To China? Inevitably.

Baidu is China’s largest search engine with ungodly amounts of search traffic (iResearch says Baidu has 84% market share) and web portal (Baidu Tieba or Post Bar). It also recently surpassed Tencent in market cap to become China’s most valuable internet company at almost $50 billion. That’s only slightly behind Facebook’s most recent valuations based on funding.

Yet like Google, Baidu has been unable to execute a successful social network or microblog to-date. Hello Facebook, welcome to China.

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Will Facebook be more successful in China than MySpace?

MySpace global is a failure amidst a revolving door of management (see analysis) and is currently on the auction block with Tencent among the suitors. But long before the dismal MySpace global failure there was the dismal MySpace China failure. As the big rumor is that Facebook has partnered with Baidu to enter China, let’s take a retrospective look.

MySpace.cn launched to fanfare in April 2007, with claims that it would be “independent,” “localized,” and hence “different” from the litany of foreign internet failures in China. The Manila Bulletin reports:

MySpace China introduced itself as a “locally owned, operated and managed company” in which News Corp-owned MySpace Inc was only one among several investors. [Note: Other blue-chip investors included IDG-Accel and China Broadband Capital Partners].

“Our team here will have the sole right to decide the operation model, the technology platform as well as the product strategy,” said MySpace China CEO Luo Chuan, a former Microsoft executive [ex-CEO of MSN China].

“It’s very unlike the other multinationals you might have heard about or seen in the Chinese market.”

Of course this was all false: MySpace.cn was neither independent, localized, or different. The writing was on the wall regarding its supposed ‘independence’ from the start: MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson as well as Murdoch’s wife, Wendy Deng, all had seats on the board of MySpace China.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan should not follow in the footsteps of this couple

Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp purchased MySpace for $580 million in 2005, said, ”We have to make MySpace a very Chinese site, I have sent my wife across there because she understands the language.” Somehow I doubt Mark Zuckerberg will send his girlfriend Priscilla Chan ‘across there’ to run Facebook China because she understands the language.

Instead, MySpace.cn ran into a host of fierce local SNS competitors and was never able to secure a solid base of users. Unlike its competitors, MySpace.cn was unable to draw on a pre-existing user base (Tencent) and failed to lock down a specific demographic (RenRen: university students, 51.com: rural users, or Douban: urban hipsters). [See overview of China’s top 4 social networks]

In April 2010 MySpace.cn’s CEO shared in an interview with Netease Tech that after three years of trials MySpace.cn would revert back from a social network to an “internet music platform.” But China Music Radar writes, “Did Myspace make any impact at all in China? Not in our experience. We never used it; we never encountered an artist that did. Since October, the site has been completely unusable here in China.”

Nor were deep pockets an advantage. Local competitors like Tencent’s QZone, OPI’s RenRen (investor: Softbank), and 51.com (investors: Giant Interactive and Sequoia) all had big backers and finance.

Joe Chen, Chairman of OPI (parent group of RenRen), scoffed at MySpace’s localization:

If you want to spend time on a site that’s about you, it’s harder to pull that off with a U.S. brand. It just doesn’t feel authentic… [in China] SNS is entirely a local game… You tell a typical kid in China who has never heard about MySpace and ask the person to spell it, 90% of the time the kid has no clue.

MySpace China quickly found itself far behind competitors: in July 2008 it had four million registered users and was hoping for 10 million by the end of the year. But Tencent’s Qzone claimed 105 million and 51.com 95 million.

And in October 2008, in the first sign of major distress, MySpace China CEO Luo Chuan resigned. Mobinode advanced and VentureBeat supported this account of Luo’s departure:

Our understanding on this is that Luo wants to run the Myspace on his own way (on Myspace.cn), but his boss believe Myspace China should be a Chinese version of Myspace.com and follow its global strategy. So, if the rumor is confirmed, it means Myspace China’s Independence fails.

 

Murdoch’s wife Wendy Deng was subsequently sent in as MySpace China’s Chief Strategist, but that didn’t go so well. In December 2010, MySpace.cn laid off 2/3s of its staff and CEO Wei Lai (魏来) left, leaving 15 sorry survivors to collect paychecks for playing Happy Farm on Kaixin001 focus on the mobile market.

Murdoch, of course, had a series of previous failures with his media ventures in China, in which I can’t decide whether his ignorance or arrogance was a bigger factor.

The ways in which MySpace.cn was independent and localized? It was independent in that China users could not connect to international users, removing a huge selling point from the ‘global network.’ And it was localized in that it censored content, a base requirement for any social network in China. Facebook will confront both of these quandaries if it enters China.

Fortunately, Facebook already has one part of the playbook down: don’t copy MySpace. Still, China watcher Bill Bishop cautions:

Full story below

http://techrice.com/2011/04/10/myspaces-sorry-failure-in-china-or-what-facebook-should-not-do/

QQ: The MSN killer that’s made in China

QQ: The MSN killer that’s made in China

By Tom Clarke

Every now and then, you come across a piece of software that genuinely surprises. Normally, the thing that surprises us about such pieces of software is what it does: features and functionalities. QQ Messenger doesn’t really do anything new. It doesn’t contain any particularly ground breaking features. It’s an instant messaging client. What’s surprising about QQ is that its network has over 1 billion registered accounts… and unless you’re in contact with China, you probably never heard of it.

qq-1.png

Depending on who you believe, QQ is either the #1 or the #3 most popular instant messaging client on the internet. It’s published by QQ.com, which in turn has an Alexa rank of 11. And yes, the fact that this is such a popular app is what makes it so important.

Apart from the fairly generic functions that you’d expect in any IM client, QQ does pack a few features which you won’t find in either Yahoo’s or Microsoft’s offerings. For example: QQ allows you to resume an interrupted download when you’re sharing files with friends. That may not sound particularly exciting but if you consider the stability of networks in parts of China and plenty of other countries, you’ll see that it’s actually essential. Another cool feature included with QQ is a nifty little screen grab tool which you can use while chatting. It even lets you make small screencasts: great for anyone who’s constantly helping friends out with their PCs.

qq-2.png

But does that make QQ an MSN killer? Well the answer is: possibly. QQ is already a better designed and more up-to-date client than MSN. What QQ needs is a way to convince Messenger users to jump ship. One way this could be done would be by interacting with the MSN network: I don’t think that would work. But some promotion on American and European websites could well have a major impact.

You can download QQ Messenger from Softonic here, and don’t forget to check out our QQ review, too!

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Comments

  • Shaan Shaan

    Generally Chinese people see QQ as a chat tool for school friends, while MSN is for work. I suppose the cutesiness of QQ lends itself to that market.

    • Sent on 17 Nov 2009
  • gphilip gphilip

    Well, in other countries MSN is either a school firend’s pick. I know countries, where Skype is “the” business IM, and MSN is for young ones.

    • Sent on 17 Nov 2009
  • Garwood Garwood

    God never made a fish with fins until He made an ocean for it to swim in God never made a bird until He made a sky for it to fly in & God never put the longings of immortality in a soul until He made a Heaven to satisfy these longings.

    • Sent on 09 Apr 2010
  • Are you on QQ? | Qingdao China | QINGDAO(nese) Are you on QQ
    ? | Qingdao

    […] web in terms of traffic rank, and number 2 in China just after Baidu. QQ has been called “The MSN killer that’s made in China“, and with good […]

    • Sent on 14 Jun 2010
  • someone in china someone in ch
    ina

    1. well from my experience , i have MSN and QQ, and i am living in china. qq is nottttttttttttttttttt in comparison with MSN. MSN is way much better. i use qq just for Chinese friends. when i use qq i never feel that it is mine. i just feel it is somebody’s else. if i wanna change my password or update any account information it is just a headache . either to ask qq people to confirm this personal change and they should ask confirmation of somebody’s else, and then they decide if i can change or not, comon what a shittttttttt, i feel exposed to qq people also to the people that can add me and search for me without any permission, so do u guys still fall into qq, it is just a crap, recently i retrieved MSN account which i totally forget the password and i didn’t use it for over than 1 year, just to use my alternative email. u seeeeeee i had enough form qq crap and i will never choose it over MSN. ((((The MSN killer that’s made in China))))) hahahaha what a jock , people’s patience killer i believe

    • Sent on 02 Sep 2010
  • Ben in China Ben in China

    I have been in China for 5 years and I use QQ extensively. It got popular at the right time and now is the standard here. Any chinese with a foreign friend probably also has an MSN account, but QQ is here to stay. It is also produced by a Chinese company. Even if the product isn’t superior, being Chinese in the Chinese market goes a long way. I also use my QQ space as an English learning playground. My university students enjoy it.http://user.qzone.qq.com/806879415 Recently I read about MSN live spaces being QQ convertible… was there a take over that I missed out on?

    • Sent on 17 Oct 2010
  • somebody somebody

    i feel that QQ is very good as a chat tool, because of it’s convenience to find your friends, similarly, you can also use that your QQ space to share your photo or journal for you friends,so i choose QQ as myself chat tool in other chat tools.

    • Sent on 31 Mar 2011