8 Articles for 'China'

  1. 2008/05/10 Is the Chinese BBS really the future of social media? (3)
  2. 2008/04/16 So Google China hopes to become #1 within 5 years - where will that leave Google Korea?
  3. 2008/04/07 Who are the hottest mobile startups in China?
  4. 2008/03/13 CityIn is called "Intelligent social network" - my question is, how intelligent is it? (1)
  5. 2008/01/10 A good look into the Chinese internet market (1)
  6. 2007/09/01 China + Dragons = China? (2)
  7. 2006/06/05 Guest Blogger #1: Tangos Chan (1)
  8. 2006/05/18 Guest Blogger (1)
The other day, I read a piece on the China Vortex, shared on Google reader by Tangos. (Thanks Tangos - I'm getting lots of insights into the Chinese web industry through your shared blog articles. Of course I enjoy your own too.)

In short, the article said:
  • Much of Chinese internet = BBS
  • Often the Chinese "group thoughts/activities", such as the recent (rather unfortunate) "Angry Chinese" incidents, get organized on these BBSes
  • Chinese' love of BBS might have come from distrust of traditional media
  • Outsiders have not figured this out
But the very last part of the article kind of made me scratch my head:
So, BBSes are the real social media marketing tool, and as usual, the Chinese are ahead of everyone else, but just haven’t figured out that part themselves. While the west talks about social media and Web 2.0, China has had a version of it for the past ten years. It may not be pretty, but it works.

Does the fact that BBS is so popular in China today mean a) BBS is the right platform for social media and b) BBS will remain as popular in China for the coming years? I'm not very sure about that, at least using the Korean market as a "canary in coal mine" example.

a) Is BBS the right platform for social media?

If we define "social media" as the collection of unque, diversified individual voices, I don't think BBS is the optimal platform for social media activities - on the contrary, BBSes can often lead to group thoughts and monoculture, where the agenda is largely driven by big voices.

b) Will BBS remain popular in China for the coming years?

In Korea, we have a popular BBS/forum service in "Daum Cafe". Three or four years ago, Daum cafe was arguably THE most popular service for Korean netizens. Today, Daum Cafes are still doing pretty okay I guess, but are definitely not the most popular daily web destination as they once used to be. Over the last several years, Daum Cafe has given much way first to minihompies, and later to blogs.

The problem of Daum Cafe as a BBS-type service was that it wasn't as much focusing on individuals. On BBSes and forums, usually it's difficult to keep track of the messages users left on different spaces and the subsequent comments left by other users. It's also difficult to put one's personal identity to the page that collects all his postings ("My page"), just like a contributor's personal page on Wikipedia is rarely visited (many people don't even know such pages exist). People like group activities too, but basically people are individualistic. Users want to have "their own site" where they have all their content under a specific URL which they can use as personal brands.


I know this is a very crude analogy, but I think the evolution from homepage to BBS to blogs and other forms of social media can be said:

Generation 1 = Homepages = individual "homes" without much communication channels. People sometimes visit other "homes" but communication between homes are generally not very active. Besides, it's generally difficult to build and manage one's own home.

Generation 2 = BBS = town hall meetings or cocktail parties where people gather together and talk about various topics, but not much of "individual space".

Generation 3 = blogs = individual homes with built-in communication system and numerous, instant townhall meetings (i.e. the content aggregation via XML/RSS).

If we look back on the Korean web service market, the game-changing services have walked through the above generations. First the homepages were all the rage (circa 1998), then there were Daum Cafe and other BBS/forum services like Freechal (circa 2000). Then, of course, Cyworld minihompies came along and took the market by storm (2002 or so). And now the name of the game is, arguably, blogs - I'm not saying this because I'm a blog company CEO :)

Of course this is only what happend in the Korean market, and just because something happened in the Korean market doesn't mean it will happen everywhere else. But having said that, I am eager to see if the Chinese' love of BBS will continue or even get stronger, or the Chinese netizens will further embrace blogs or other forms of more "personal" media platform. What do you think?  
TAG BBS, blogs, cafe, China, Daum, Freechal

So Google China hopes to become #1 within 5 years - where will that leave Google Korea?

Web 2.0 | 2008/04/16 00:04 | Web 2.0 Asia
reports that Kai-Fu Lee, Google China's president, said Google aspires to become China's search market leader within five years. Lee's comments back up Eric Schmidt's audacious statement.
"Certainly, we would like to aspire to be a market leader in five years," Mr. Lee said Monday on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia.

Google accounted for 26% of China's Internet-search revenue in the fourth quarter, up from 17% a year earlier, according to Beijing research firm Analysys International. Market leader Baidu.com's share of the market rose to 60% from 58%.

Many Internet users in China are more familiar with Baidu, which started earlier in the country and which attracts users in significant part by facilitating easy access to free music.

If Google China does succeed in becoming the top dog in China, it will certainly be a sweet revenge against Baidu, which practically mocked Google with its infamous "I know you don't know" commercial (ironical this is hosted on Google's own Youtube):

Going back to the quote again, Google China's market share jumped from 17% to 26% in over a year. That's pretty remarkable growth, isn't it? Especially so, contrasting those figures against Google Korea's current market share, which is 2.16% as of March 2008 (according to Korean Click, a Korean web analytics company.)

Why is Google struggling to break into the Korean market? It might be because Korea is a unique market where "monoculture" dominates, or it might be because Korean local incumbents, most notably Naver, are so good. Or it might be the combination of both.
TAG China, , Korea

Who are the hottest mobile startups in China?

Mobile | 2008/04/07 11:46 | Web 2.0 Asia
Tangos of China Web 2.0 Review introduces the winners of Mobile Monday Beijing peer awards, including Tokiva:
Tokiva is a mobile virtual network operator which provide convenient and low-cost communication service to global traveler. Tokiva addresses key communications necessities for global travelers: inexpensively phone calls around the world, accessing email and sharing with peers.

After installing its mobile client and log in, you can call any number. Tokiva calls the user back and immediately connects the user to the called party. It also integrated with IM, so you can add its IM bot to use the service without downloading its client.

The service was privately launched in September 2007, and entered public beta with over 700k registered users on January 2008.

You can check out the rest of the winners here.

Mobile Monday Beijing is being spearheaded by our friend Benjamin Joffe, whose consulting work has recently been introduced on Read/Write Web.

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TAG China, Mobile, Mobile Monday
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CityIn is a new Chinese social network service that "aims to bring people together by matching their personal interests, entertainment, brands, celebrities and others."

So here's how the service seems to work (Reminder: I'm a Chinese illiterate, so my understanding of the service can be very limited. I'm turning more to Angus's English coverage here). In the sample case of iPhone (shown below), there are 11 people who expressed their love of iPhone, so you can browse who also liked iPhone other than yourself; Also shown are other items being liked by those who liked iPhone, such as BMWs.

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So CityIn follows textbook ways of connecting people and objects in the so-called "object-centric (as opposed to ego-centric) social networks", which I believe can be summarized:
But the big question I'd like to throw is, how much of intelligent recommendation technologies are being used for CityIn to come up with those "other people" and "other items" lists? Do they just use simple DB matching to come up with those lists? If that's the case (which I doubt), I wouldn't see much value in the service, because there can be millions of people who love Yao Ming, who each would love all sorts of random, mutually unrelated things.

The so-called "dopplegangers" carry significant meaning only when they share some very unique things with me, not generic stuff like Starbucks. But then, if you found a guy who also liked a '70s album that's known only to two people in the entire world, would you be delighted enough to send a private message to him? I for one wouldn't. (Well, If she's a pretty girl, that's a completely different story of course).

I think the concept of CityIn is quite nice (the best of Lovemarks and Amazon book recommendation, perhaps?), but I'd like to first see how much of personalization technologies the company brings to the table. Because I know that personalized recommendations take either huge amount of data or a very sophisticated, intelligent technology - or actually more likely, both. CityIn might have those - if you know, please shed some light here.
TAG China, CityIn, Recommendation, social network

A good look into the Chinese internet market

Web 2.0 | 2008/01/10 16:30 | Web 2.0 Asia
Below is the sample version of "Inside QQ", an excellent report on China's internet service market (with particular focus on QQ service) from my friend Benjamin Joffe et al. The original version can be found on Plus 8 star website.

China + Dragons = China?

Other | 2007/09/01 23:55 | Web 2.0 Asia
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Acer of Taiwan announced the company will acquire Gateway, a US PC manufacturer, at 0.7 billion - which in my personal opinion is a bargain.

Anyone who was in the US around the mid 90's should remember how iconic Gateway was in the US PC industry. The company's "milk cow" packaging boxes were instantly recognizable. So this makes another case where an iconic US PC company was sold to a foreign company, following Lenovo's acquisition of IBM's PC Division.

Now, I am no expert in Chinese modern history but I'm at least aware that Taiwan and China are as different from each other as the US and the UK are. But from a purely economic point of view, the two countries seem to get along, regarding each other as a very important trade partner. And now with the #3 and #4 players in the worldwide PC market being Chinese and Taiwainese respectively, it looks like the world will see the two counties' duels in high-tech sector more often. (The now-#4 Acer is expected to become #3 when the company also acquires Packard Bell.)

As Taiwan and China compete with each other in various sectors of global market, the Chinese economy in a broader sense ("華商") will become stronger. During the course, it's very likely that the strongest economic force - in the long term, obviously China - might subsume the economic energy of the neighboring countries whose economy is mostly controlled by the Chinese. These countries include Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong - the "four dragon" countries minus South Korea.

So, simply put, it's likely the following formula will take place:

China + Hong Kong + Singapore + Taiwan = China

I know this is oversimplified, a bit stretched statement, but if that ever happens, it might mean the true beginning of the Chinese domination of world economy, something even most Americans think will happen within the century.
TAG Acer, China

Guest Blogger #1: Tangos Chan

Web 2.0 | 2006/06/05 17:18 | Web 2.0 Asia

As I said in this post, I will look into opportunities where other great bloggers can share some of their thoughts and insights with the viewers of this blog.

My first guest blogger is Mr Tangos Chan. He is running China's premier Web 2.0 blog, China Web 2.0 Review. Anyone who is interested in Chinese Web 2.0 industry yet can't read Chinese will find this site very resourceful.

I wished to go to China but couldn't, so an email interview was conducted.

1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? What are your
current or past activities that made you start Chinese Web 2.0 Review?

In fact, I'm just an ordinary man.  Currently I'm working in an internet company in Guangzhou to deal with some finance-related issues. But I will move to Beijing soon.  Last year, the concept of "web 2.0" sparked the ideas of many internet startups in China, and more and more overseas VCs are eyeing on China's market.  But I realized that there is an information gap between them. Due to language barrier, English-speaking world don't have many effective channels to know what happened in China. I think an English blog would be a good way for me to try to bridge the gap.

2. Can you describe the funding environment for the Chinese web 2.0
industry? (How hot / cold the market is, What's the average size of
funding, Notable success stories, etc)

In fact, I personally don't know much on the funding and investment circle. But I'm sure the market has recovered from the bubble time, and it is hot, many reputable VCs entered or prepared to enter Chinese market. For example, Sequioa Capital, CRV and KPCB. It's hard to tell the average size, since there are many small cases which you may not know.

Oak Pacific's 48 million funding should be the most notable case, other notable cases include Qihoo and Toodou.

3. In your view, what are the 3 most successful Web 2.0 companies (or
initiatives) in China?

Douban should be on the list, you know, in China, when we talked about domestic web 2.0, we often take Douban as an example.
Dianping is also a very successful website, even though when Dianping launched several years ago, no one knew what is "web 2.0"
Sina blog is my third choice. It is a very successful initiatives to attract users and promote the concept of "blog" to the mass.

(Editor: Wow, I didn't know these until I learned them from you ! I'll check them out.)

4. What's your view on the Asian countries, most notably China, Korea,
and Japan, working together on the Web 2.0 ? How do you believe we can
make this seemingly good idea happen?

I don't think it is easy for east Asian countries to work together, since there is big language barrier among three countries. And it seems that there is also quite different web culture in all three countries.

(Well, I begun my Chinese class :-)

5. Who will win this worldcup :) ?

Netherlands is always my favored team, esp. I'm big fans of Van Basten, but I don't think they will be lucky enough to win the game. So I'll bet on Germany. :)

Thanks, Tangos ! If you have any questions for me, I'd be delighted to answer them. Also as I discussed with you, I'll translate this into Korean and post it on my other columns.

Guest Blogger

Other | 2006/05/18 11:47 | Web 2.0 Asia

Despite being a newbie blogger (28 days of blogging, to be exact), I'd like to invite guest bloggers. It would be a great honor for me.

The first blogger to whom I sent an invitation email (and who kindly accepted it) was Mr. Tangos Chan of the famous China Web 2.0 Review.

I like the word "Beseto", short for Beijing - Seoul - Tokyo. (Sorry that Shanghai folks or people from other Asian countries are not included, but I didn't make the term, sorry). It would be great to see tech companies in Beseto get together at a joint conference, or at least have some online space to exchange information and learn more about the IT industry of the other countries. By the way, a pan-Asia football league like UEFA won't hurt, either :-)

Although I very much anticipate to meet Tangos in person, I'll have to push that to the next time, so I'll interview him by email. You will soon see the email interview right here.