With the #1 online security software (user penetration hit 83.3%), second most-popular browser (user penetration peaked at 57% in last September), largest startup-page (hao360.cn, according to iResearch report) and more than 3 million users at hand, Qihoo360 could easily take the same approach as Tencent did with QQ – to capitalize on its huge user base to diversify businesses and revenue sources.
And it is doing so.
After launching two aggregate services indexing daily deals sites and luxury goods sites to tap into the ecommerce mania, the company just released its own Pinterest-like product lately, namely Woxihuan.com (我喜欢, or I like). Hats off to the innovative service over there in the Valley. A joke says, one of the many criteria taking into account when evaluating a Valley startup is, to see how many copycats it gives rise to in China. Apparently, Pinterest made it. We now have a dozen Chinese Pinterests, even Renren can’t wait to step its toe into the forefront.
Qihoo’s Woxihuan bears no difference to its other peers, you can ‘Pin’ (post) what you find interesting onto the site, and you can save all your Pins onto a certain, customized ‘board’ to organize all your stuff, say save all food-related pins onto a board called “gourmet” or whatever. The site also linked Sina Weibo and Renren, means you can sign in with either your Weibo or Renren account with no need to register as a 360 user to use the service.
If looking back, we could reveal an arguable fact that Qihoo360 rarely step into non-profitable, niche-market-oriented product territory, the company launched aggregate sites only because serving as a gateway is money-making; it powered up several open platforms just for the 3rd apps, immense user base and the lucrative potential hidden in the interaction between them; it offered users with many free products, but mainly targeting everyday users rather than touting to just a small group of people. To me the new product is kinda off the track for the Beijing-based company.
But if we take this from another perspective, then it did make sense for Qihoo360 to push itself into the Pinterest spree here. The company owns the second largest browser in China, it can hands-down add a new feature for ‘Pinning’ stuff onto Woxihuan to streamline its use. Bear in mind that Pinterest is actually a profitable business because it can be turned into Meilishuo and Mogujie like social ecommerce service after minor amendments, just add in Taobao item links, like what j.renren.com has done. When will 360 make such change to Woxihuan, maybe soon, from what we have seen here, the service has no competitive edge in comparison to its rivals.