Online medium takes middle ground route to win readers

Updated: 2011-09-05 07:51

By Chen Limin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - While micro blogs are enjoying enormous popularity in China, another form of blogging has sprung up in what is intended to be an innovation in the hottest Internet service in the country.

The "light blog" has made its way to an increasing number of Internet users as it positions itself as a unique service between Tweeter-like brief posts and long blog entries.

Inspired by Tumblr.com, a US-based light blog launched in 2007, Chinese Internet companies have been coming out with similar services since last year, betting it will be another hit on the Internet.

'Micro blogs are like newspapers, light blogs like magazines, and blogs like books," said Jack Xu, founder and chief executive officer of Diandian.com, a major light blog in China.

Light blogs enable users to post multiple pictures, audio and video files, and words of any length in a post, while most of the micro blogs have space limits. Meanwhile, users can comment and share posts just as they do with micro blogs. In this way, light-blogging service providers aim to fill the gap between micro blogs and blogs.

A number of big Internet names, including portals Sina Corp, NetEase.com Inc and Nasdaq-listed Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd, have entered this field.

"Light-blogging will be a trend in the following two to three years because micro blogs cannot satisfy all the different needs of users," said Li Dongmin, product and operation director of Shanda, who is responsible for the company's light-blogging service, Tuita.com.

Li said Tuita has acquired about 100,000 registered users since its launch on June 28, and more than 60 percent of them share content daily.

Diandian's Xu, who previously worked at social networking site Xiaonei.com (now Renren.com), said Diandian aims to get 10 million users by the end of the year.

Li estimated that the light-blogging service in China may see explosive growth as early as next year.

Zhang Lei, who leads Sina's blogging and light-blogging service, Qing.weibo.com, agreed that the service will attract a large number of users who tend to produce original content and appreciate the quality of a blogging service. However, Sina's light blog, compared with its micro-blogging service, Sina Weibo, is more of a complement to the company product portfolio.

"It's more for a niche market, for people who care about culture, arts, lifestyle and so on," Zhang said. She added that Sina Weibo is more of a communication and media platform, while Qing is a place for users to express their ideas.

Qing has more than 1 million registered users, Zhang said.

Tumblr received 8.4 billion page views a month after four years of development, according to a blog post from Tumblr President John Maloney in June. This made it the 25th-biggest website in the United States, according to Quantcast.

Shanda's Li said light blogs can use online advertising and application fees as ways to generate revenue in the future, just as many micro-blogging service providers are exploring now.

As many as 195 million people were micro-bloggers in China as of June, about 40 percent of the country's total Internet population, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Dong Xu, an analyst with the domestic research company Analysys International, said that the market for lightblogging may not be as big as social networking sites and micro-blogging as users' needs for the Internet have already been divided by many Web outlets.

Light-blogging service providers, however, are making efforts to raise funds to gain the upper hand in the market.

Tuita, with team of 40 in Shanda, plans to spin off as a separate company in the future and is talking with venture capitalists about fundraising, according to Li.

Diandian raised more than $10 million in its initial round of fundraising from venture capitalists, including Sequoia Capital, in April.

Wei Wuhui, an IT observer who teaches at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said in a blog post that micro-blogging service providers may possibly add light-blogging features to existing micro blogs to improve the service.


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