Rip-off or Evolution? Top 3 Chinese Equivalents for the App You Use Everyday
China has a whole set of Internet administration system that is different from most of the other countries. In order to control adult or political related content, the conservative Internet administration policy has made a lot of apps and websites unavailable in the mainland. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, most of the social giants have to quit the market because they cannot meet the high standard of the policy.
No judgement on the policy, it’s complicated. But with the absence of these giants, the void in the market has to be filled. The Chinese have an ambitious spirit in their blood. Facing such an enormous market void and great opportunities, they are not going to just sit there and watch.
So there you go. A whole bunch of similar apps or websites grew extremely fast in mainland China. Some of them are doing even a better job than the overseas version. Let’s take a look.
The Chinese Twitter – Weibo
Weibo has the similar operating mode as Twitter. You create an account, and you follow celebrities, corporations, press officials or friends. Every time the people you follow post something you can get a feed and you get to like it or repost it.
Weibo can provide everything you can do on Twitter. You can create a hashtag on a topic, you can see what’s trending, and you can send direct message to a certain person.
With more than 200 million daily active users, Weibo is now one of the most important digital press sources and takes a major part in China’s cyber culture. There were more than several cases that the local government, corporation officials or celebrities trying to do cover-ups on some shady things or major incidents, but things finally got exposed to the public by some sources through Weibo.
More celebrities and entities are joining Weibo as the app keeps growing its influence in Chinese cyber community. Not only natives, but also people from all over the world who wants to have a say in this market. From Leonardo DiCaprio to Steven Hawking, from National Geographic to PUBG official. Weibo is now a major window for international entities to get in touch with their Chinese fans.
Weibo beat a lot of competitors in the past decade and has now evolved into a mature, prestigious and fully developed social platform. It covers a great portion of the population and provides juicy, informative and entertaining contents everyday. Although the idea was originated from Twitter and the two apps have a quite similar operating mode, Weibo can hardly be considered a rip-off because it’s taking a totally different part in China’s cyber world from Twitter ever did in its territory.
The Chinese YouTube – Bilibili
It’s hard to say that Bilibili is a standard YouTube equivalent in China. Unlike YouTube, Bilibili started out as a niche site for youngsters who enjoy anime. With the pinky theme color and the adorable user interface, Bilibili seized its target audience really tight from day 1.
The pinky style is kept to this day, but the content has changed a lot. Anime is still taking a great portion but a lot of other videos showed up too. Gaming, education, music, comedy, make-up, live stream, all uploaded by other users. You can subscribe to the channel you are interested in and get notifications for their new videos. At the same time, you will also receive video suggestions every time you log in.
Sounds familiar? Yep, that’s basically a mini YouTube.
Other than the “YouTube” features, one thing that has to be mentioned about Bilibili is the “Bullet screen”
“Bullet screen” was originated from japan. Ever since it’s introduced into China, it has been growing stronger everyday. right now, almost every online video service is trying to add this “bullet screen” feature to the product, and Bilibili is considered the one who initially introduced this feature and the one who is doing this thing the best among all the others.
Despite the product being great, in my opinion, it can only be considered a mini YouTube. Unlike Weibo, which is basically nothing less than its overseas counterpart, Bilibili does not have as many users as YouTube does, and even in mainland China it doesn’t cover such a great population like Weibo. But still, being entertaining, rich in content and free of ads, Bilibili is loved by many youngsters across the country.
The Chinese Google Search – Baidu Search
Ever since Google quit the market in 2010, Baidu has been the biggest search engine in mainland China. when you want to search something on the Internet, Baidu is basically a no-brainier.
Google provides a lot more services than searching, likewise, Baidu is also something more than just a search engine. Cloud storage, artificial intelligence, translation service, big data, games, even a Wikipedia-liked Chinese encyclopedia platform. One thing that it differs from google is that, although it’s also a tech giant, Baidu does not have much of a good reputation like Google.
As a monopoly in the search engine industry, the Baidu search engine has gradually became the easiest way for the company to make a revenue and the easiest way for it to promote its own products. Sometimes you will even be shown up to 5 to 6 promoted results at the very top of the result list, some of which are even illegal institutions or fraud websites. The unhealthy business mode of Baidu search engine even caused a young man’s death back in 2016 because it showed promoted content of an unqualified private hospital. The news shocked the whole country, and that’s when people started to seriously question the value and social responsibility of this tech giant.
And there are more
Just because some of the apps are blocked in China or failed to enter the market, it doesn’t mean the netizens in China cannot have the service. Twitter, YouTube and Google Search are just the tip of the iceberg. Uber, Reddit, Quora, Facebook, they all have, or had, equivalents in China. If you are interested, maybe I’ll introduce them to you in the future.