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Looking for the next killer mobile app

I was chatting with Isaac Mao sometime back and I asked him some questions about SNS and blogging in China….

By Cynthia Yoo , in Blogs SNS 3.0: The Asian Invasion , on February 7, 2008

I was chatting with Isaac Mao sometime back and I asked him some questions about SNS and blogging in China.

Micro-blogging is a big thing in China, he pointed out and told me to look into it.

So I did.

Well, first of all, microblogging is popular in China because it goes back to an earlier point that in China, more people have access to mobile networks than broadband. A desktop computer costs a year’s wage for the working class. Only about 13% owns one. A cell-phone is cheaper and has a deeper, broader reach.

Culturally, microblogging makes sense for a generation raised on cellphone texting and IM. And this net-saavy generation in China is young and dynamic, expectant of instant communication and continual flow of information.

Rather than a 300-500 word blogpost review of a popular movie, these media prosumers might send a quick twitter feed to all their friends giving a thumbs up or down and maybe a call-out for a friend to the next movie opening.

Ergo, these factors of form and function go to explain how the young and Chinese haven’t acceded to SNS from the West like Facebook and MySpace and their Chinese copycats.

Instead, Chinese tech firms are creating mobile social networking applications, including microblogging applications.

A Newsweek article pointed out:

“Instead of adding instant messaging as an afterthought, Chinese Internet firm Tencent Holdings started out as an IM company in 1999, then launched social services such as games and virtual pets, all built around IM. Tencent now has 273 million members and 30 million peak simultaneous users—three quarters of China’s IM market—and is “on the cutting edge of business-model innovation,” says Duncan Clark of BDA, a consulting firm.”

From an industry meet-up in Beijing, Alvin Yang from Tencent said:

“Tencent now has over 288 million active accounts either on mobile or on web, that’s about two times of the number of whole Internet users in China.”

Tencent’s mobile services range from IM, games and virtual pets!

Virtual pets, you say? Remember Tamagotchi?

It goes to show how Asians are awfully good at ways monetizing all kinds of