Tencent Is Opening As Promised, Further Thoughts on Chinese Style Openness

2 min read

The mysterious Tencent, has released its probably the first open API today, API for Tencent’s microblogging platform. So that’s cool as Pony Ma has kept his promise: Tencent would be open within six month, at least he has taken the first step. If you know well about how Twitter grows so fast, you must understand the API is the obvious strategy. So I would assume you don’t need me to tell how good the API is.

As an big fan of Open technology and Open concept, I have been monitoring the evolution of open platform in China since the very beginning. The good news in local web industry is that more and more people (especially high level decision-makers) have reckoned open is the future, but on the other hand, some Chinese philosophy behind the Open concept might be more complicated than you thought. I am not saying it’s wrong, but it’s Interesting.

Open is also a competition

This is easy to explain. Basically, if your competitor has launched an ‘open’ platform, no matter if it’s necessary for you or if you have fully understood the value of opening or the market is mature for it yet. You must build up your open platform quickly. Recalling in 2008, 10 leading Social Networks announced together the support to OpenSocial, it turned out in the end most of those social networks just did it for PR purpose. Sina launched its open platform for its Weibo (microblogging) last month. As we have been covering a lot about Sina’s ambition and also given the fact that Weibo is so hot in China, Tencent’s first open platform is chosen on its microblogging service, surely is a must.

Service-oriented or Money-oriented

Open platform of course needs be monetized in the end. But look at Facebook, Twitter, when they got its open platform/API up, I don’t think they looked at money at that stage. It’s to sort of service-oriented. In China, the open API for some reason, is inevitably linked with $$$. The same example, end of day few of those social networks which supported OpenSocial were serious about the open platform. The reason is simple, OpenSocial API gives a good technical solution, but little about how to make money. And even more interesting, the thing could go from one extreme to the other. Instead of talking about monetizing the open platform, in China we could prepare rmb 20million fund for developers, which is super cool.

When you see all these mingled together, is it exciting as well as a bit strange?