Sina Weibo to add third-party app support to its social network as part of ongoing mobile revamp

Sina Weibo to add third-party app support to its social network as part of ongoing mobile revamp

Sina Weibo has announced it will be updating its core interface to incorporate functionality for third-party apps, as it charges ahead in its transformation from a desktop platform to a mobile-first platform.

Earlier this month, China’s domestic equivalent to Twitter, revealed a new feature which lets users hover over print-media content and and glimpse at a preview of an article. This move was widely described as similar to Twitter’s new cards feature, but at the time, little information was available in regard to how this feature might incorporate other types of media, or outside apps.

Today, however, Sina Weibo unearthed even more details about this new addition to its core functionality. Indeed, it appears that the company, whether intentionally or not, is following in the footsteps of its international counterpart.

According to Techweb (Chinese link), the new changes will revolve around Weibo’s compose box in the platform’s mobile app. There, the current “Picture” function will receive two new subdivisions: one for taking pictures, and one for accessing a user’s own collection of photos.

The box will also feature an additional “Add Attachment” button, which is where things get interesting. Upon pressing this button, a drop-down menu listing different types of media (pictures, music, video, etc.) will emerge. The user’s desired media can then be accessed through the a preferred third-party app. The user can customize which third party apps appear in the drop-down menu (provided Sina Weibo supports its integration).

Once users press “Share,” all content in the post will appear on a special type of card that will clearly indicate the app from which it was retrieved. And, as per the platform’s traditional use, these cards can subsequently be reshared with other users.

An unnamed representative from Sina Weibo stated that should all go according to plan, Sina Weibo will incorporate functionality for 28 different third-party apps. As the company continues to open its platform further, it hopes it can include even more.

The spokesperson also elaborated on a possible vision for the future of Sina Weibo, which some anticipate will ultimately have to evolve. “In the future,” the rep states, “we expect one’s Weibo account might become a sort of conduit. Users can go through their accounts in order to access other mobile apps.”

Such a proposition is intriguing, as it certainly plays to Weibo’s strengths. Lately, observers have watched WeChat, China’s fast-growing over-the-top messaging service, surge in popularity, while Sina Weibo growth appears to be stalling. Naturally, however, a chat service is different from a real-time social network. Since Weibo, like Twitter, is more “open” than a chat service, it is more suited to fostering a “share with the world” functionality. Incorporating third-party apps will allow Weibo to capitalize on this asset, not to mention opening more possibilities for monetization.

The revamp is geared specifically towards the social network’s mobile platform, which, as is the case with most other social networks, is becoming the core of Sina Weibo’s future development. Last year, Sina Weibo declared that 2013 would see the implementation of a “mobile-first” strategy.

As of December 2012, Sina Weibo has over 500 million users, of which almost 50 million are active on a daily basis. 75 percent of Sina Weibo users access the network through a mobile device. While the company receives 30 percent of its ad revenue from mobile, the growth rate for mobile ad revenue has surpassed that of its PC ads.

(Hat tip: Techweb)

Image Credit:  MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Read next: Meet Puck Meerburg, a 13-year-old programmer with apps on iOS, Android and BlackBerry 10