Facebook Set to Tackle Chinese Market?
Facebook seems poised to tap the Chinese market in a deal with New York listed Chinese search giant baidu.com that has been speculated upon since Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited the mainland in December. Claimed to be a vacation by sources close to him, the Mandarin learner Zuckerberg managed to fit several meetings in with a number of domestic Internet giants, including Baidu’s Robin Li, that may have been the catalyst for a deal.
Facebook, however, may be coming late to the party. With local social networking giant Ren Ren Wang (the people network) going for IPO this year, sina.com‘s Weibo and Tenecent’s already dominant QQ social networking platform with over 600 million users, one might question how successful a China campaign may be for the U.S. based social networking site. With comparative failures by other large U.S. based Internet leaders, most notably Baidu’s largest competitor google.com, size isn’t everything when it comes to the Chinese Internet market, the largest in the world at 450 million users and growing.
With nearly 700 million active users, Facebook is by far the largest social networking platform in the world but is currently blocked by the Chinese government by what is often referred to as the Great Firewall of China that requires a proxy or VPN ( now familiar terms to even the novice expat Internet user in China) to access sites like Facebook. If Facebook remains blocked by Chinese authorities and a facebook.cn need thrive without the benefit of their already massive users-base, will the site be able to tackle the Chinese social networking market and capture a piece of the largest Internet user market in the world on brand alone?
Would you use a Chinese version of Facebook? What do you think the future holds for Facebook in China?