I’ve heard rumors that Facebook is going to enter China by the end of this year, and well, considering I saw this news from sources like BusinessWeek, China Daily, and Bloomberg, I guess I can’t really call it a rumor anymore. But the suspicious part of this news is that all these authoritative media outlets claim the same news source: the popular Chinese online portal Sina.com. Yet Sina.com itself did not give out any detailed information about this either, and only credited an unidentified person as their source. And then if you add the unlikeliness of Facebook entering China at this time point, it totally sounds like a rumor right?
Take a look at China Daily’s report below, which is the most conflicting news I have read in a long time:
Title: Facebook Plans to Enter China
Body: Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said the Palo Alto social media king is “interested in China, just as we are many other countries, and while we are studying and learning about them all, we have no specific plans for China at this time.”
No specific plans? Facebook, are you coming or not? China Daily, could you stop fooling with my and thousands Chinese social network users’ hearts?
Despite the ambiguous quality of this news itself, it got forwarded by many tech news sites in China, and also picked up by many foreign media outlets like the ones mentioned above. After Google’s exit from China, the attention around foreign technology companies’ business moves in China has been very high. Most Chinese tech media and blogs are not very positive about Facebook’s prospects in China, even if they find a way into the market. The current Chinese social network market has been very saturated by the Big Three: Tencent’s QQ , Renren, and Kaixin001. QQ is the most original one that sprang from their pervasive instant messaging service in China, while Renren was a copycat of Facebook at the outset, but has evolved since then and holds a tight grip on Chinese college and fresh graduate demographics. Kaixin001 started from work professionals, and caught fire from their popular embedded social games like Chinese Farmville. Almost overnight Kaixin001 made all Chinese white collar professionals grow corps and steal vegetables during their office hours. Even government policy has played a favorable hand in these local Chinese web companies’ growth, examining eBay’s loss to Chinese eCommerce site Taobao, Yahoo’s loss to Chinese web portal sites, and also Google’s famous loss to Chinese search engine Baidu, I have to say an understanding of the local market plays the most important role in these battles. So, if Facebook is really coming to China soon, they better learn a good lesson from these previous cases and be fully prepared to fight a hard battle.