Weibo, the Chinese Twitter hybrid launched by SINA in August 2009, plans to release an English language version of the platform in the United States in the next 2-3 months, bringing it into direct competition with Twitter, reports PaidContent, citing the the Chinese technology site TechWeb.
Weibo, which dominates the microblogging landscape in China with 140 million users and millions of updates each day, offers a more feature-rich experience than Twitter, with extras such as message threading, groups and polling functionality. But would that be enough to tempt Western users to switch?
Probably not. Twitter is too well-established to be threatened by a newcomer, particularly one that is backed by a company that doesn’t have the greatest record on free speech and civil rights.
But Weibo might be an attractive option to the millions of Chinese people living in Western countries, which could help to enforce the network as a global presence, which could rock Twitter’s boat in the long term. The English language option might not be an issue – simply being in the USA might be all it takes. After all, Weibo currently has only about 10% of the 1.33 billion Chinese population on their network, and over a billion people speak Chinese – one of the six official languages of the United Nations – around the world. So, there’s definitely room for growth, which at the very least should provide a major boost to Weibo’s revenue stream.
”We forecast Sina Weibo will generate $10 mln, $45 mln and $100 mln in ad revenue in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively (see Figure 2). For the corresponding periods, social apps revenue is assumed to be $0 mln, $10 mln and $20 mln. By 2013, we believe Sina will likely have 10K paying business accounts, with average ad revenue of $10K per account annually,” projects analyst firm SIG Susquehanna.
A microblogging company that actually makes money? Who knew.