Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him a Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].
Sina is reaching out to its international audience now that it has begun offering the option of an English interface for its Weibo microblogging service, as noticed by Tech in Asia.
Though I wasn’t able to access the new interface via the languages drop-down menu at first, visiting http://weibo.com/?lang=en-us did the trick. The English version still needs some work, as only part of the page has been translated and there are some formatting issues.
A Sina representative subsequently confirmed to Tech in Asia that countries in Southeast Asia would have the option. “This isn’t opened globally yet,” the spokesperson said.
Sina began offering an English version of its mobile apps in 2011, but the website had lagged behind.
With over 400 million users, Sina Weibo has become a giant in China, but overseas adoption appears mostly limited to overseas Chinese and China watchers. Although, Western celebrities are beginning to take notice of the service. Earlier this week, actor Brad Pitt reportedly signed up for the service, though his first message has since been deleted. Rapper Snoop Dog and actress Emma Watson have also joined up.
Weibo hit a new peak volume of 729,571 messages per minute at the start of the year, blowing past its previous record set during the 2012 Chinese New Year.
Sina recently upped its focus on the Weibo side of its business with a corporate restructuring that will see CEO Charles Chao spend more time focusing on monetizing the service. The company is experimenting with ecommerce and a payment platform on Weibo to put leverage its massive user base for profits.
Headline image via Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images
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