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July 19, 2011

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Weibo in English

GIVEN the dramatic differences between social networking ecosystems in East and West, can Sina weibo make a success of its English-language platform expected to be opened by the end of the year? Challenges abound.

Without an initial English-user base and a different user audience, local weibo user Tracy Tan doesn't think it will be successful.

"The majority of weibo users are Chinese. It can have an English version, but it won't be that popular," she says.

Language is not the only barrier. IT commentator Xie Wen lectures on the importance of being first.

"There is only one Twitter, and at its core, it's a communication service, where you go on one place and you can have access to everything. Without China's approval, Twitter can't enter the market. So Sina made their own weibo, and then they want to compete with those in the Western world; there is a fundamental problem in this logic."

Xie says they want Twitter users to stop using Twitter and switch to Sina weibo or use both simultaneously.

"This is just absurd, microblogging should be relaxing and intuitive, an easy platform rather than a responsibility."

He says Facebook has translations in more than 100 languages, "but it's really just the same system. Whereas Sina is a completely different English platform ... it will be hard for it to gain access outside of China's ecosystem."


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