Netease CEO, Ding Lei recently announced that NetEase will release a light blogging platform called Lofter.com, to directly compete with DianDian, which is the clear market leader.
Although the service has not yet officially opened, it is planned to combine light blogging like DianDian, micro-blogging like Sina Weibo and a light email. The operative word here is ‘light’ or in other words, easy. Much of the success of Tumblr and hence DianDian, is the simplicity it gives to people who want to blog. It’s like the Apple iPod of blogging; you don’t have to teach someone how to use it (hopefully).
I once had a discussion with a VC about the whole shift towards light-blogging. I argued that light-blogging and micro-blogging is experiencing hyper growth because it appeals to a mass audience, unlike more sophisticated platforms like WordPress which are for more professional bloggers like TechNode.
In preparation for the light-blog battle, DianDian Founder, Jack Xu is planning to launch an iPhone, iPad and Android client. He also plans to reach 10 million users by the end of this year by burning through US$100 million (over four years). As the saying goes in China, “it’s not about quality, but quantity.”
In China, since people try to escape paying for things as much as possible, start-ups and businesses seem to fall into the default mind-set that advertising is the only way to make money. And to generate more ad revenue you need to prove a large amount of interested eyeballs are watching you. I think it will be very interesting to see the day that tech start-ups in China are able to build a business model that people are willing to pay for. For Tumblr, they make some money by charging for upgrading themes, but it’s hard to say if Chinese users will actually pay, unless DianDian or Netease’s Lofter tries to charge for these sort of upgrades.