Microsoft’s local portal, MSN China, has revealed that it has grown to 50 to 60 million active monthly users in the country, as it continues its battles against home-grown news and entertainment offerings from the likes of Sina, Netease, and Tencent. In addition, MSN China’s GM, Liu Zhenyu, said that the company is planning a move into the Chinese e-commerce market, and that such a shift would coincide with its search engine, Bing, coming out of its beta testing period in the country.
If we cast our minds back to last November, we’ll recall how Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) first e-tailing effort in China was sent to the deadpool as the ‘MSN Mall’ Yobrand women’s fashion site failed to compete against local e-commerce giants such as Tmall. It’s not clear if it’ll again be a fashion-oriented site, and no time-frame was specified.
Mr. Liu also outlined, as reported by Sina Tech a three-point plan of attack for his eight-year old cn.msn.com portal: pushing business growth through more effective advertising; some paid services; and, the afore-mentioned new e-commerce initiative. The initial two areas are already covered by the Microsoft local subsidiary, leaving the latter to be conjured up.
A representative of MSN China in Beijing explained to us this afternoon how the portal generates its revenue:
The first one is from display advertisements based on the MSN portal and Windows Live products. The second one comes from Bing search engine advertising revenue. This includes providing e-business services to Chinese enterprises […] such as Bing adCenter [and the] MSN M+ program [for SME] internet marketing and branding. The third source is from assisting Microsoft to manage mobile internet products, such as the Windows Phone Marketplace, manage apps, and provide display advertisements for apps.
And so MSN China also runs the local version of the Windows Phone Marketplace, which went live in March right after Nokia launched its WP7 smartphones in Beijing.
In the past, MSN China has not been able to turn its tens of millions of readers into online shoppers, so it’s going to be an even greater challenge the second time around. There are already plenty of big-name and smaller niche e-commerce sites in the country, covering pretty much every product area.
As for Bing China, the localized version of its search engine, Mr. Liu pointed out that, despite its tie-up with Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) to provide English-language search results and some other mutual working areas, Baidu ads will not be a part of Bing China.
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