[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net/%5DFacebook founder Mark Zuckerberg vacationed in China during the holidays. During this vacation he casually met with the top executives from Sina and Baidu. Sina’s Weibo is a Twitter-like microblogging service. Baidu is the Google of Chinese search.
“Mr Zuckerberg came to get a better understanding of China’s Weibo market,” Sina said in a statement.
If Zuckerberg plans to fulfill his vision of connecting the world, than expanison into China is crucial. China has 1.6 billion people and an estimated 420 million Internet users.
Facebook and Twitter are currently blocked by China’s government. Beijing has set up a huge online censorship system oft dubbed the “Great Firewall of China” that blocks sites or removes Internet content on sensitive topics.
Chinese social networks RenRen and QZone are the dominant players in the market. Twitter replica Weibo, According to Eric Johnson via Yahoo, is set to pass Twitter in the number of users in 2011. China’s third largest social media service, Kaixin001.com, is popular with white collar workers. Kaixin001 has developed some very popular social games, like ‘Slave Manor’ and ‘Happy Farm’. According to the data from Analysys International Enfodesk, social game users in China are around 85 million. By 2013 this is estimated to equate to a market potential of $431 million.
At a recent visit to Stanford, Zuckeberg indicated he was “spending a lot of time” studying Chinese.
“It’s kind of a personal challenge this year, I’m taking an hour a day and I’m learning Chinese. I’m trying to understand the language, the culture, the mindset– it’s just such an important part of the world,” said Zuckerberg.
“It makes sense–he is interested in the Chinese Internet, he’s made that very plain. Obviously this is one of the big dark spots for Facebook because it is blocked here in China,” said Kaiser Kuo Director International Media Relations at Baidu. “He has had a long-standing interest in China. I’m sure he wants to get the advice of someone who knows the Internet landscape well here.”
If Facebook were to team up with Baidu or Sina they would be strong alliances against Facebook’s current and foreseeable competition of Google and Twitter in other markets.
Which begs the question, is there a sequel to the blockbuster movie “The Social Network?” Rumor is the working title is “The Red Social Network.”
By Erik Qualman