By Yao Xu
ON AN AVERAGE DAY IN CHINA, 2,000 new users create an account in the college social network Xiaonei 校内. As of July 2007, 0.086% of the global internet users visit Xiaonei on a daily basis. 96.2% of these internet users are from China. Xiaonei continues to attract more users. Just within the last three months, the website shows a 75% increase in the number of visitors
Students in the United States who are avid users of Facebook will immediately spot the similarities between Facebook’s blue and white color scheme and Xiaonei’s similar layout. Both sites moreover, offer similar functions. Xiaonei and Facebook allow users to post, blog, and upload photos and videos. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook in 2004, and Wang Xing, the creator of Xiaonei a year after, founded their sites under the same concept: a social market that targeted university students. While Xiaonei still restricts its domain to mostly undergraduate and graduate students, Facebook opened up its domain to everyone.
Xiaonei officially launched in December 2005 in Beijing by Tsinghua University graduate Wang Xing, and Wang Huiwen, Lai Binqiang and Jacky. Xiaonei started with only 300,000 users from one thousand universities. Currently the site has six million users.
The site’s success attracted the attention of Oak Pacific Interactive (OPI), the Chinese internet business organization and creator of a similar college social network called 5Q. OPI bought Xiaonei in October 2006. The number of users logging into 5Q plummeted within the last six month while Xiaonei continues to soar in its ratings.
However, Xiaonei’s popularity cannot match Facebook. The California based social network had 2.245% compared to Xiaonei’s 0.084% of the global internet users logging on to its sites daily in June. One reason may be that Xiaonei’s main audience is in China while Facebook attracts users from not only United States but a sufficient amount from Canada (14.5%) and the United Kingdom (11.6%). Since Facebook’s exposure and success in the Chinese media, other sites including Xiaonei, 5Q, Zhanzuo, Yeejee, China Ren, China Y, Dipian, Baodoo, Dorm99, eDorm.cn, and FaceRen have tried to compete with the fad, but Xiaonei has been the most successful.
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Yao Xu completed her undergraduate work at the University of California, Irvine and received a Bachelor of Arts in English. She wishes to begin to pursuing a Masters of Arts in literary or broadcast journalism by next year.