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Home  /  Inside China  /  Chinese Social Networks' Obvious and Secret Advantages Over Popular Western Competitors
Chinese Social Networks' Obvious and Secret Advantages Over Popular Western Competitors print version
More than 300 million internet users in China don't make Facebook's and Google's life there easy. Web portals, entertainment sites and social networks are all extremely hot among young Chinese, but this doesn't open the gate for the internet giants open wide.
Perhaps it's the successful Chinese imitations that have eliminated the need of Google or Facebook by Chinese users, or perhaps it is the lack of knowledge of China's internet industry which creates difficulties in the assimilation path of Facebook and Google, among other popular sites worldwide.

Although BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) are very popular in China's internet sphere, in recent years local social networks have made the most impressive leap forward. Even when MySpace and Facebook weren't blocked by censorship, they were left a long distance behind Qzone, 51.com, Xiaonei, Kaixin001 and more.

One advantage that the major networks over their western competitors is their ability to advertise their applications quite aggressively on their pages, including forcing users to invite friends if they wish to use such services.

Many popular Facebook applications have been copied by Chinese SN. While surfing between xiaonei, 51.com and kaixin001 one would find applications such as 51宝贝 (51's Virtual Pet), 疯狂车位 (Crazy Parking), 好友买卖 (Friends for Sale) and 开心农场 (Kaixin (happy) Farm), which are 99.9% based on Western applications.

Still, this doesn't mean that new original applications are not developed in mainland China. Furthermore, in 2008 51.com created a semi-revolution in the market dynamics of Chinese social networks by allowing third party developers to gain direct money from users of applications on the site (in such non-free applications the money is normally divided half and half between the website and the application developer). This approach has been partially adopted by other key players of China's SN scene.

Some clues for success are widely exposed to Facebook and other Western SN, though the industry's business culture, government censorship and additional users' trends continue to cast a shadow on the acceptance of western-international sites by the Chinese internet industry.

Links:
Qzone.com
xiaonei.com
kaixin001.com
51.com


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