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Mobile Internet giants rival in e-commerce
Published on: 2013-08-07
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altChina's two Internet giants Sina Weibo and its rival Tencent WeChat have rolled out new products with more commercial functions, marking the escalation of competition in the Chinese mobile Internet market.
The Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo, which received USD 586 million in investment from China's e-commerce giant Alibaba in April, launched its Taobao-friendly version on Monday. It allows users to log into the online shopping platform Taobao.com via a Weibo account, check prices, credibility and popularity, make payments and share with friends.
Also on Monday, Tencent rolled out an iOS update to its popular talk-and-text app WeChat, featuring payment services, a games center and a sticker store in a bid to monetize the free app. A WeChat-customized subscriber identification module (SIM) card was also released in collaboration with telecom giant China Unicom.
"The launch of commercial-oriented products of the two Internet giants mark the heating up of competition on the mobile Internet commerce market, and it heralds reforms in the e-commerce industry," said Cui Kai, senior analyst with Upperplus, a domestic Internet research and consulting firm.
Since 2012, Sina Weibo has been marching with its commercialization push by taking a series of profit-making steps such as focused interactive advertising, social networking games, real-time search functions and e-commerce platforms.
In its latest version for mobile users, Sina Weibo updated with similar bar-code-scanning function in late July, signaling its move towards mobile Internet commerce.
Zhejiang-based online snack shop Bee & Cheery, one of the first business users to try the Taobao-friendly Sina Weibo, said the service contributed to over 50 percent of their online shop's total traffic on Monday.
In the meantime, as WeChat gains national as well as global popularity, Tencent took its first commercial move to monetize WeChat in an attempt to cash in on its 400 million-plus user base. 
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