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China Daily Website

Sina sells smartphones to for profitability

Updated: 2012-12-21 10:38
By Gao Yuan ( China Daily)

Move seen as an attempt to turn micro-blogging service profitable

Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, said on Thursday it will sell smartphones made by Xiaomi Corp, a company that plans to become the Chinese version of Apple Inc.

Sina sells smartphones to for profitability

Women walk past an advertisement for the online media company Sina Corp during a fair in Shanghai. [Jing Wei / For China Daily]

The move was interpreted as Sina Corp's latest attempt to turn Weibo profitable and fight off the increasing threat from WeChat, a popular voice-messaging application developed by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Bookings for the phones have been taken, and Sina will start delivering them on Friday.

Sina and Xiaomi are preparing to sell 50,000 units of the Mi-Two smartphones to Weibo account owners. Buyers will be asked to pay through a third-party application developed by Sina.

Although Sina admitted that the payment service is still awaiting approval from the People's Bank of China, the banking regulator, the company decided to put it into commercial use earlier this year.

After years of accumulating user numbers, Sina is "speeding up the pace", said Dong Xu, an analyst with Beijing-based research company Analysys International.

Sina claims Weibo has more than 400 million users globally, and about half of its traffic comes from mobile users.

However, Sina Weibo is facing intense challenges from WeChat, better known as Weixin.

Downloads of WeChat on Android smartphones hit 146 million as of Nov 20, while there were 91 million downloads of Sina Weibo, data from Analysys International showed.

Given the fact that more than 90 percent of the nation's smartphones run the Android system, WeChat is the most popular social networking app in China.

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