While microblogging pioneer Twitter is under fire after unveiling more details of its plans to work with developers that access its API, its Chinese equivalent — Sina Weibo — is preparing to make changes of its own. Sina isn’t about to make hugely impacting moves, as Twitter is, but the Chinese company will launch a new version of Weibo this year with enhanced sharing, improved personal pages and a focus on advertisers.
Speaking on Sina’s investor relations call this week (via Seeking Alpha), chairman Charles Chao said that the changes will come over the next few months and will include updated personal pages and Google+-style private sharing of tweets:
Towards the end of third quarter, we plan to launch version 5 of Weibo. The new version will have significant changes to our existing personal profile page and which also allows users to have the ability to share information and content among close circles privately.
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Weibo is seeing traction among advertisers and the 80 or so companies that advertised during the second quarter of 2012 contributed 10 percent of the Web giant’s total revenues, which jumped 11 percent year on year to reach $131.6 million.
With that in mind, the company is opening the system up and plans to introduce a “self-support advertising system for SMEs and for individual users” before the end of the year, much in the way Twitter expanded its own promoted tweet platform.
Unlike Twitter though, Sina is focused on generating multiple income streams from Weibo and it is planning to expand its additional revenue sources from the microblogging site, which Sina says had 368 million registered accounts and 36.5 million daily users in June
Upcoming developments will focus on payments and data, Chao explained:
In terms of Weibo monetization this year, in addition to the Weibo display advertising system we launched, we also plan to build or improve the basic infrastructure, such as payment system, credit system and data system for Weibo monetization this year.
Twitter’s own focus on ads has drawn discontent in some quarters — which is one factor behind the creation of new subscription-based social platform App.net — so Sina will need to tread carefully while trying to squeeze more advertising bucks from the service.
Sina continues to extend its eco-system and it recently launched forum service Weiba, which is very much like Baidu’s hugely popular Tieba. Sina has numerous other services that ‘plug into’ Weibo, such video site Kandian, groups, a news portal, instant messenger, location-based services and more.
Image via Mobile Monday Bangkok