Francis Tan is the Asia editor of TNW, who is based in the Philippines. He is particularly interested in Asian Internet startups, social me Francis Tan is the Asia editor of TNW, who is based in the Philippines. He is particularly interested in Asian Internet startups, social media and e-commerce. Get in touch with him via Twitter @francistan or Email [email protected].
Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging platform from China, has just updated its iPhone app to support an English interface ahead of the Weibo website. Could this mean that Sina Weibo is preparing to go head to head against Twitter?
It’s very surprising as this may actually be Sina’s first attempt to tap into non-Chinese users for its Weibo service. I gave the app a spin and found that despite having the main interface available in English, there are still some features and notifications that are limited to Chinese. Regardless, all the basic functions could be navigated easily — I was even successful in registering an account and posting a “tweet”, or Weibo as they call it.
Although it borrows a lot of elements from Twitter, there actually some advantages when using the Twitter clone such as integrated instant messaging, direct photo, video, and audio posting, and animated emoticons among others. Sina Weibo also has the advantage of being accessible in China, without having to circumvent Internet censors with a VPN.
With the news of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s trip to China being linked to the possibility of bringing Twitter to the country, however unlikely that may be, it seems as though Sina is already one step ahead by further establishing its position as the top microblogging service. It would actually make a lot of sense if Sina offers an English option on Weibo.com as well, to go directly head-on-head against Twitter.
The Sina Weibo app is available for free in the iTunes app store. Unfortunately, the update has yet to be released for the Android version, but we can be certain that it won’t be far off.
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