Popular messaging service WeChat has been taking away the time users spend on mobile in China, leading to concerns that Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo is being threatened. In fact, Sina previously admitted that it believes time spent on Weibo is down because of competition from WeChat.
However, at GMIC Beijing today, Weibo CEO Gaofei Wang painted a more optimistic picture, saying that Weibo and WeChat occupy different niches. Weibo is essentially a source of all public information, he said. WeChat, on the other hand, is more of a communication tool and social network among people you already know.
“I hope that people can have access to all the information they’re interested in on Weibo. They don’t need to watch TV, they don’t need to read newspapers, and they don’t need to access other channels of public information,” he said.
This sounds familiar — Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president of Americas, Asia Pacific and emerging markets, told TNW previously that the main difference between it and messaging apps is that Twitter is public, which means you can talk to anyone who has the same interests as you, instead of just family and friends.
However, the issue of censorship in China wasn’t raised at all when Wang spoke about his vision for Weibo — after all, the conference is held in Beijing, the capital of China, where any such mention would probably land the company in trouble.
Yet the existence of censors on Sina Weibo is already widely acknowledged — with a 150-man team handling 3 million posts every day. There are already signs that users are less engaged than ever in response to China’s efforts to minimize its influence as a free thought platform.
Sina recently listed in a less-than-impressive IPO in New York, with shares sold at the bottom end of the firm’s valuation.
Wang also acknowledged that there’s space for even more competition, noting that Weibo and WeChat won’t be the only two major social networks competing with each other in China, as they are only meeting some needs. He said here are many other services that can be built to target other requirements such as picture and video posts, citing Instagram as an example of meeting that need in the US.
Headline image via Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images