Baidu, Renren, Youku, Weibo – What are they?

The Great Wall, as one of the Eight Wonders in the world, makes each Chinese feel proud. As a matter of fact, there is another invisible Great Wall in China, called as the Great Firewall, which is a project conducted by the Chinese government to control, monitor and filter the “inappropriate” sources or information from the Internet. There are quite a lot of arguments about the existence of the Great Firewall. However, this is not the subject that I am going to talk about. Rather, because of its existence, we have our own Chinese “Google”, “Facebook”, “twitter”, etc. Now let me shortly introduce them one by one.

1 Baidu VS Google

baidu-googleOften I amuse myself with one expression: the whole world is googling, only Chinese are Baiduing. Baidu was founded by Robin Li in 2000, who developed the RankDex site-scoring algorithm for search engines results page ranking in the US. Later he returned to China and developed the Baidu Search Engine using this technology. Only after a few years Baidu became the biggest search engine in the mainland of China, and the biggest Chinese search engine in the whole world. Baidu site ranks No.1 site in China and No. 5 in the whole world, according to Alexa ranking. Besides search engine, Baidu has developed lots of other products, such as Baidu Baike, Baidu TV etc. In 2013, Baidu took more than 60% markets while Google only took 2% market in Chinese market of search engine. “You don’t know it? Ask Baidu!”

2 Renren VS Facebook

renren-facebookHave you Renrened today? Renren, originally called Xiaonei, is a Chinese “Facebook” site and the earliest campus SNS platform in mainland of China. Xiaonei literally means “the inside of the campus” in Chinese language. Therefore its main target users were students. In 2009, it changed as Renren whose meaning is “people”. Since then, it aims to enlarge its user base and is not limited to students. The design of Renren site is very similar to Facebook. So are the functional features. As a result, Renren faces the questioning of copying Facebook. But the fact is that since the Facebook site is not allowed access in China, Chinese are pretty much content with Renren. Imagine, every day when you log in on Facebook and see what had happened, the Chinese are doing the same except they log in on Renren.

3 Youku VS Youtube

YouTube-YoukuI honestly have to admit that even the name sounds similar. Youku is a video hosting service site in China, founded in 2006. Four years later, Youku was listed at the New York Stock Exchange for the first time. Youku aims to become the biggest video hosting website in China. Until now, Youku has partnered with over 1,500 license holders, including television stations, distributors, and film and TV production companies. It is the same as Facebook that Youtube cannot be accessed in China, therefore the Chinese watch massive video clips from Youku. In short, Youku is the Chinese “Youtube”.

4 Weibo VS Twitter

weiboLikewise, Chinese cannot access Twitter either. So the western people are tweeting, whilst Chinese are weiboing. Weibo literally means mini blog, which allow users to publish, to comment, or to share a mini blog with limited words, often marked with a few similar tags. In 2009, Weibo started to appear in China. In a short time, it got more than 100 million users. The most popular Weibo is called Sina Weibo, which has the largest number of visitors. Then come Tencent Weibo, Sohu Weibo etc.

In fact, besides what I have listed above, there are some other sinicized Internet products, such as Chinese “Amazon” – Taobao, or Chinese “Skype” – Tencent QQ. I often wonder, if the Great Firewall had never existed, would it turn into a totally different situation? Would Baidu, Renren, Youku, or Weibo ever exist? Would Chinese just Google, Tweet or Facebook like anyone else in the rest of the world?


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