by Xinhua writer Li Huizi
BEIJING, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese microbloggers are reveling in Thursday's launch of the Sina Corp's new domain name "weibo.com" as China's largest Internet portal aims to attract more users by giving its blog site another name.
Sina (Nasdaq: SINA)'s microblog, or China's equivalent to Twitter, with more than 100 million users currently, launched the pinyin domain name with a new logo, a scarf, which in Chinese is also pronounced as "weibo."
Currently "weibo.com" and "t.sina.com.cn" use the same platform and are identical in content. Sina started its microblog service in August 2009.
The same is true for Sina microblog's mobile site, with Weibo mirroring the previously existing site.
With 420 million Chinese netizens, the largest in the world, the online community is seeing an increasing number of Chinese pinyin domain names, although this is the first time for Sina, which has 56.5 percent of China's microgblog market share, to host one.
"It's a milestone for Sina Weibo," said Sina president and CEO Charles Chao, adding that the company will continue to invest heavily in microblogging services.
The new domain name, and development of the Weibo brand, is "One small step for Sina, one giant leap for microblogging," a netizen has said.
Microglogger Xuechenzi said, "It's no exaggeration to say that weibo.com will enter the main page of China's media history, as it 'monopolizes' the Chinese word, with Sohu, Tencent and other Internet portals having to choose other words to name their microblogging services."
He said Sina's brand value is expected to soar immediately as Sina Weibo quickly captures more Internet traffic, putting pressure on its rivals.
The launch of weibo.com was advertised in an unprecedented way Thursday with depictions of online embedded ads printed on the frontpages of major metropolitan newspapers across the country. People have even collected Thursday's Beijing Times to commemorate the launch of Weibo.
According to Google trends, a tool indicating online searching frequency and popularity, the flow rate of Sina Weibo has already surpassed those of homepages of Sohu and Netease, and it is also approaching the click rates of Tencent and Sina. The four websites are all major Chinese Internet portals.
Though dubbed as "China's Twitter," Charles Chao denied Weibo copied the model of its western counterparts, arguing that "the evolution of Chinese social media will be different from Twitter or Facebook, as Weibo features high interactivity."
With Sina's share prices surging over the past six months, Wall Street has shown enthusiasm for Weibo's possible spin-offs and independent IPOs.
Social networking websites have gained a foothold in China in recent years, with Facebook-like site "kaixin001.com" and other microblogging sites popular among young people. Top Chinese microbloggers include mainland TV stars Yao Chen and Taiwan's entertainment star Xu Xidi, or "little S."