Feeds

Chinese Twitter Sina Weibo goes bilingual

The Chinese are coming!

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Attention Twitter: Chinese micro-blogging giant Sina Weibo has just updated its platform to accommodate English speaking users in a move that may well signal international expansion.

The English language interface is still only partially complete and a Sina spokesman told local blog TechInAsia that it “isn’t open globally yet”, but the signs are pointing to an imminent launch.

For the record, Sina Weibo’s Hong Kong site is still Chinese only at the time of writing although reports are filtering in from US users who can see an English interface.

Although rival Tencent launched a bilingual option back in 2011, Sina’s microblog service is by far the most popular in China with approaching 400 million users – by comparison, Twitter is said to have around 500m globally.

Adding an English option could therefore push those figures up massively and given Sina’s avian-themed rival something to think about. At present, Sina Weibo’s user base outside of China comes mainly from ex-pat Chinese and a smattering of Western celebs who post updates with the help of local agencies.

Sina is not the only Chinese web firm looking to increase expansion overseas in 2013. Tencent’s hugely popular Whatsapp-like mobile messaging app Weixin is anecdotally doing good business abroad in the English language guise of WeChat, although reliable user numbers are hard to find.

It even launched a BlackBerry app last month to capitalise on interest from SE Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where the RIM device is still a hit with users.

China’s web giants have often been criticised for their failure to innovate and of achieving their success almost by default, because their Western rivals are blocked in the People’s Republic.

However, Canalys analyst Nicole Peng sees it differently, arguing they could hold their own overseas. “Many of the local mobile services/applications we have seen in China, such as Tencent, Weixin and Sina Weibo provide great user experience and innovative features that we could not find from the international big names,” she told The Reg.

“As long as they continue to innovate and own their IP, I do not see Chinese internet companies having any major disadvantages in competing [overseas], as mobile services become device/OS agnostic in the future.”

On the hardware side too, Chinese firms are expanding their reach. Aside from the obvious Shenzhen duo of Huawei and ZTE and PC giant Lenovo, little-known smartphone brand Xiaomi has revealed plans to launch in North America in 2014 or 2015.

The manufacturer of the Android-based MI-2, often referred to as the “Chinese Apple” thanks to consumer ardour for its slick Android handsets, yesterday said it expects to sell 10 million handsets in 2013 on the back of expansion to Hong Kong and Taiwan, before trying to crack the USA. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers
Hungry mobe'n'slab-waving Blighty swallows spectrum
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.