TechWeb reports that according to informed sources, Sina Weibo is “actively preparing” to release its microblogging platform in English to go directly head on against Twitter, in about 2-3 months.
Earlier this year, Sina announced its plans to monetize its hugely popular microblogging service and since then has been very active with rolling out new features. Probably the most conclusive piece of evidence to support the rumor is the introduction of an English version of its iPhone app last month.
This will make Sina Weibo one of the first Chinese social networks to be launched in the U.S. in English. As of May, Sina Weibo has reached more than 140 million registered users and expects to top 200 million users by the end of the year, making it one of China’s hottest social networks today.
It will be interesting how Sina Weibo will apply the mandatory China censorship to other countries, especially ones that are protected by laws on Internet freedom, which require sites to be completely open.
Twitter, founded in 2006, has more than 300 million registered accounts globally. It is available in English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Korean and other 9 languages, with 70% of traffic from outside the United States.
China has a huge Internet market capable of sustaining itself and despite the hardships for a Chinese Internet company to enter foreign markets, it looks like Sina Weibo has the best shot among social networks.
We reported earlier that Sina Weibo is bigger in China than Twitter is in the US but it’s still hard to compare since they are two very different markets. Being made available in English will certainly even out the playing field that we might be able to tell which microblogging platform is superior.