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115.com Caught in Inevitable Dilemma
Chinese cloud storage service juggernaut 115.com shut down public sharing service on August 7, 2012. According to Alexa, after its ‘sudden death’, 115’s rank went down drastically. By Nov. 26, 115.com has lost half of the page, and its ranking has dropped from top 5oo below 1000.
115 had once been glorious. By usage rates, 115.com dominated over 80% of the storage cloud service market. Chinese comics app iBuka, which boasted hundreds of thousands comic fans stored their comic strips on 115, had, at peak, over 3000G of comic strips downloaded in a single hour. In November 2011, the company behind 115.com raised a Series A fund of $200 million. The company looked like it was flourishing. That is, until it wasn’t.
There’s a thumb of rule saying an easy start is at the expense of much more challenges in the future. 115’s early rise and fast boom was based on tricks, which turned into trouble, and eventually, inevitable Problem.
Copyright infringement concern is one of them. Pirated books, films, software and games kept flooding in, making 115 a magnet for traffic. Also, by using SEO, the site ranked high among searching results.
Another gray area is P2P. After forced to install the plug-in when watching stream videos, users contributed their own bandwidth to servers without even noticing it.
All in all, 115 was an unruly place. Shrewd users bought many VIP accounts with large storage and high downloading speed and rent them out with cheap price. Or they hacked the server and stole the resources directly.
screenshot of 115.com homepage
After shutting down its sharing service, 115 still retained two ways for users downloading resources. The first requires users to friend the owner of the resource, with normal user’s number of friends being limited. The other one is to pay for VIP accounts, which enjoy the right to transfer other’s resources to own storage and download them directly.
115 dared to make such a move partly because mountains of resources stored in its server. Many sites deposit their resources on 115 and it would be time- and energy- consuming if they change a storage service and revised all the links again. As for average users, some may compromise and pay, but it most of the40 million users probably won’t.
It took courage for 115 to change course. And in the strange Chinese market where users are so accustomed with piracy, 115 just might be able to find a winding road leading to victory. But with big hitters like Baidu and 360 also offering cloud storage services, whether 115 would have a healthy and steady future is still a uncertain. However, 115’s bold move can probably help Chinese Internet users to understand more about copyright .
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