Twitter Faces Growing International Competition from Windows Live

In the 1980s, Windows used to be considered restricted technology, and illegal to ship to China … fast forward 30 years, and now Windows in partnering with Chinese companies. A lot has changed …

By Tim Conneally, Betanews

At GSMA Mobile Asia Congress yesterday, Sina Mobile general manager Gaofei Wang said his company’s 15-month old microblog Weibo is well on track to hit the 100 million user mark by the second quarter of 2011. The Twitter-like service launched in August 2009, and recently hit the 50 million registered user mark. It took popular microblog Twitter a little more than three years to hit the same milestone.

One week ago, Microsoft’s Web services branch MSN announced it had partnered with Sina.com to team up and offer a comprehensive web services package to Chinese users.

A major component of that partnership is in traditional blogging. In September, Microsoft announced it was shutting down its Live Spaces blogging platform and migrating users over to WordPress.com. But in mainland China, where WordPress is censored by the government, users did not have an easy place where they could transfer their Live Spaces blogs. The partnership with Sina gives Chinese users a place to transfer their blogs.

The partnership also links Sina’s properties to Windows Live. So users can log into Weibo with their Windows Live ID, and connect their accounts with Messenger Connect. With these connections in place, users’ presence on Windows Live Messenger can be shown in their Sina blog or Weibo microblog, and they can engage in direct chats with users viewing their pages.

In his presentation at GSMA yesterday, Gaofei said Weibo is twice as popular as Twitter in Hong Kong, and even moreso in mainland China.

The partnership is significant for two reasons.

First, because it finally brings MSN China a reputable microblogging service. Last year, a serious controversy arose when MSN China launched a microblog called Juku, which was found to have been mostly plagiarized from a Canadian startup called Plurk.

MSN China cancelled the service after just two months, saying “A portion of the code they provided was indeed copied. This was in clear violation of the vendor’s contract with the MSN China joint venture, and equally inconsistent with Microsoft’s policies respecting intellectual property.”

Secondly, Weibo’s integration with Windows Live Messenger could help bolster the IM client’s presence in the Chinese market. According to Analysys International, Windows Live Messenger has only a 4.3% market share in China, compared to Tencent QQ, which dominates with a 76.4% share.

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2010



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