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2012-11-20    来源:WSJ    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Tencent's WeChat Takes Bite Out of Weibo

Tencent's fast-growing mobile messaging application WeChat isn't making money yet, but according to rival Sina Corp., the application is already taking user attention away from competitors.

腾讯(Tencent)成长迅猛的移动通讯应用“微信”(WeChat)还没有实现盈利,但据竞争对手新浪(Sina Corp.)说,这款应用已经吸引了其他类似平台用户的注意力。

Speaking during Sina's earnings call on Friday, chairman Charles Chao said that the time users spent on the company's Weibo microblogging platform declined slightly in the third quarter from the second quarter, in part due to competition from WeChat. Though analysts have pointed to rising competition between Weibo and WeChat, Mr. Chao's comment marks the first official indication from either of the companies that the game is on.


Launched in early 2011, WeChat already has more than 200 million users and has helped Tencent claim a healthy chunk of China's middle- and upper-class users, who do not necessarily use the company's microblog or QQ desktop-computer messenger services.


That means it is square on Sina's turf, since Sina Weibo is predominantly used by China's urban upper crust. Tencent reports larger user numbers for its own microblogging service than Sina does, but most analysts argue that users of Tencent's Weibo tend to be less wealthy or from smaller cities in China.


During the call, Mr. Chao sought to draw a strong distinction between the roles of Sina's Weibo and Tencent's WeChat (known as Weixin in Chinese): 'I think as everyone knows that Weixin and Weibo are probably the two most popular applications on the mobile terminal right now. Weibo is probably more like a public network, (with) people sharing information publicly, whatever they say or publish can be seen by everybody. But Weixin is more like private network, people sharing information content among friends, and people know each other.'


Despite those differences, Mr. Chao admitted that as WeChat's popularity grows, it will inevitably cut into the amount of time users are putting into Weibo, since every user only has so much time in a day to spend on mobile social networking.


Mr. Chao said Sina is adding private sharing to Weibo, so that users can use it more like WeChat if they care to, but he insisted that Sina would continue to focus on its core competency, which is enabling its roughly 400 million registered users to share jokes, photos, news and any other thought they might have publicly (assuming it gets by the service's increasingly trigger-happy censors).


That's smarter than trying to create something to compete with Tencent, which has over the past decade proven itself to be China's undisputed king of messaging.


Due to its large numbers of influential users, along with the requisite political junky followers, Sina's Weibo is probably insulated from the Tencent threat in the short term. But WeChat does directly link to Tencent's Weibo, and not to Sina's, making it possible that Tencent could gradually lure faithful Sina Weibo users over to its own microblog.


The true goliath of the Chinese Internet, Tencent is sitting on $3.7 billion in cash compared to Sina's roughly $700 million. With its massive gaming revenue stream, it is far better poised to weather an expected dip in advertising revenue due to the country's slowing economy


As Tencent has long known, money doesn't translate into influential users, but applications like WeChat show it's trying to lure them over. It is early days in the development of the mobile Internet in China, but Mr. Chao's comments set up what's likely to be a key battle in the coming years.


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