Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo has launched an English interface. Is this a hint of bigger things ahead for Sina?
Twitter may be the dominant microblogging service in countries like Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. But in mainland China, where Twitter is filtered out by the so-called Great Firewall of China, the service may reportedly have only less than 20,000 users out of its 200 million active users worldwide.
In China, Weibo services are all the craze. Sina Weibo , for instance, one of the larger weibo services (“weibo” translates to micro-blog), has about 400 million registered users. Some of this user base is likely to be scattered across the globe, with Chinese users abroad using the service to get in touch with folks back home.
Sina is opening up its service to more users, particularly by offering English as a language option. This move is likely to stave off competition from rival Tencent Weibo, which launched an English veresion in September 2011. Launching in English also lets non-Chinese speaking users explore the service, which is richer in features as compared to the very spartan Twitter.
Sina is reportedly making its English interface available to users across South East Asia , although the English translation is confirmed to be accessible from the U.S. and South Africa.
On a lighter note, Hollywood actor Brad Pitt has just joined Sina Weibo . His first weibo said “It is the truth. Yup, I’m coming.” The cryptic message caused some stir and confusion, given that the star is being banned from entering China since participating in a Tibet-related film in 1997. His post has since been deleted, but we wonder whether the timing of Sina’s launching its English-language interface could be related. Other western celebrities on Sina Weibo include Tom Cruise, Emma Watson and rock band Radiohead.
Interested in tweeting — or rather weiboing — with friends in English? Head on to Sina Weibo now.
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