NetEase, which just inched towards online dating market with the launch of a Chinese match.com Huatian, secretly backed off from LBS forefront and closed its Foursquare-clone Bafang yesterday.
Bafang – literally means “eight square” in Chinese – went online two years ago when Foursquare and LBS was as hot as Pinterest it is now in China. Users can check into the service to claim and share their locations with friends. The service also stepped a big step forward to integrate more gaming feature into checkins.
Over the course of past few years, Chinese LBS market has been seeing more and more dropouts leaving the field. Shanda’s Qieke now pivoted to a coupon finder, Digu became the new Pinterest, K.ai turned itself into a social rating service. Jiepang, one of the few, if not only, survivors of Chinese LBS fever also refocused away from just checking-in, the latest version of the app highlighted a new feature “Explore” to recommend local businesses to users.
Interestingly, as NetEase is retreating from the market, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are all pushing deeper into it.
On a separate note, the closing down of Bafang is exactly why you shouldn’t let yourself be the guinea pig of big company’s startup project, you never know when they’re shutting down services with gloomy prospect.