Competition between China’s Tumblr clones heats up

China’s microblogging scene has been in the news a lot of late, with leading service Sina – whose Weibo service is widely acknowledged as the most popular Chinese Twitter equivalent – launching a Tumblr-like, lite-blogging service ‘Qing‘.

I recently wrote about how Weibos have changed communication in China, to the point where 140-character long resumes are a growing trend, but, as the astute guys at Technode report, Qing offers a distinctly new prospect capturing the market between short tweet-like messages and fuller blog posts.

From the Technode post:

With huge user base and high engagement, Sina Qing fits right into the gap between Sina Weibo and Sina Blog, the former is easy to use but fall short in multimedia features, while the latter is more powerful but lacks behind in usability. Combining their strengths, Sina Qing will be a major threat to Diandian and other light-blogging services in China. The bottom line is, majority of weibo users have been engaged actively on Sina; the Chinese portal can easily transfer these uses to its own platform.

It is worth pointing out, for those not aware, that Tumblr itself has become an institution in its own right. Technode:

Founded by David Karp in 2007, Tumblr facilitated 250 million daily pageviews as of May, hosting 18.8 million blogs and 5.5 billion posts. A lot of famous people and media companies are also using Tumblr, just like how they use Twitter.

What is interesting about the timing of the Qing launch is that a rival Tumblr-like founder is complaining of rough treatment from Chinese social networking giant Renren, which just raised $743.4 million in an initial public offering in the US.

Jack Xu of Diandian alleges that the social network will now allow users to share content on Diandian, and two other services. Techrice has all the details, translating his open letter – in which he says he will close his Renren account in protest.

Why would Renren block Diandian?

First off, it is important to note that Diandian isn’t alone in being blocked by the Chinese social giant, although Techrice’s Kai Lukoff believes that Renren is likely to launch a rival service, providing yet more lite-blogging offerings in China.

The other speculation is that Renren is likely coming out with its own lite-blog, the latest trend for all Chinese internet companies. Gotta have one–Sina, Shanda already do. Tencent, Renren, Kaixin, et al. are surely “coming soon”.

Although there is the issue that Xu is a former Renren CIO so, as Kai points out, it could be down to a case of bad blood with a former employee.

Either way, motivations aside, it is clear that lite-blogging, Tumblr-style is a growing topic in China.

Hitwise, the excellent UK based web analytics firm, is one source that will be on hand to follow the potential growth after the company last week launched a dedicated China portal.

In the launch post, the company’s Robin Goad points out just how successful microblogging has been in China to date, with far greater penetration – per person – than Twitter has enjoyed.

Chinese Internet users are primarily interested in micro-blogging when it comes to social media. Sina Micro blog (China’s alternative to Twitter) accounted for 1 in every 158 Internet visits in China for April 2011. This makes China one of the most voracious micro-blogging nations worldwide, with a greater market share of visits going to micro-blogging sites in China than in the UK, US, France, Canada, Australia or India.

Like microblogging before it, Tumbler-clone, lite-blogging services are set to be the next big thing in the world’s most populous market.

I’m still finding my way around Weibo, if you have an account why not stop by and visit my profile