Dianping announced to open its data to third-party partners yesterday. AutoNavi, Evernote China, General Motors, Shanda and Garmin are the first companies that can access Dianping’s data with the APIs just released. It is found that, however, third parties who run competing businesses, reviews, group buying, digital coupons or ordering, are not welcomed to use its data.

Developers, after reading the terms of service, don’t find its opening-up friendly that limits are set on the use of data. For instance, third-party services can only show three reviews — no more than 50 characters each — on each merchant’s page. Users have to visit Dianping to see the words left or more reviews.

Zhang Tao, its founder and CEO, expressed a while ago that Dianping wanted to be a platform, not a Yelp-style standalone product (in Chinese). Posed as a service for local life, Dianping started out with ratings and reviews and added various services, such as group buy and check-in, along the way. The company now is promoting the digital membership card which is expected to be a big market that attracted more than a few competitors, such as Tencent’s lifestyle commerce business and Alipay. Mr. Zhang, however, doesn’t think everything can be included into Dianping that they’d not do hotel information for “hotel isn’t a local service”.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com