News of the new “Facebook Places” – a competitor of sorts to location check-in service, Foursquare – is burning up in the States. It doesn’t really matter to us here in China, considering both Facebook and Foursquare are blocked…. but in case that depressed you – if you’re into letting the internet know exactly where you are, there is a veritable horn o’ plenty of Foursquare clones ready for your using.
Echoing Twitter’s history in this country (it’s rise and eventual block), Chinese companies have been and will be quick to copy the successful idea of “checking in” a million times over. Think about all the Twitter clones in China now – that’s about how many Foursquare clones you can look forward to in the future.
As for now, it seems that there are five or six clones that are getting the most buzz in China right now. In order of their Alexa rank, they are:
- Lashou (lashou.com) – Alexa Rank 329 in China: A mix between Foursquare and Groupon (a deal-of-the-day type website in the States and Canada). Here’s a good English-language run down of its features, which include “earning points” by checking in at locations more than once and using Lashou to buy something there.
- Zaina (wwere.l99.com) – Alexa Rank 2,011 in China: Trailing behind Lashou is Zaina, which seems to be just one part of Lifang (L99.com), a website that seems to also have a news service and a microblogging service for recording pictures and memories of you at your location. Oh, and there’s some kind of game where you can challenge other Zaina users in what looks like a hot-or-not competition.
- Jiepang (jiepang.com) – Alexa Rank 2,807 in China: Right after Zaina is Jiepang, which was recently featured by Oglivy. Like Foursquare, you can earn badges, see your friends’ locations and so on. I don’t think there’s any games – apparently their draw is their simplicity and clean interface.
- Bedo (bedo.cn) – Alexa Rank 4,013 in China: Another more simple Four Square clone, Bedo lets you announce your location, as well as look for friends (and strangers who could be friends) in the area to arrange parties. No bells or whistles here – just straight up “here I am, let’s do something IRL.”
- Sifang (sifang.com) – Alexa rank 15,279 in China: Despite having the name that is the most direct translation of “Four Square,” Sifang is the least popular – at least right now – of the various platforms. Maybe it’s just a fluke of the website. None of the links worked when I tried to click in.
As Forbes notes, the field right now is getting more popular each day, but could be crowded out when the big companies jump in to play. Already, restaurant and review locator Dianping has rolled out its own entry into the locations services game. Will Bedo and Sifang be able to survive when Sina, Sohu and Tencent jump in?
Anyhow, it’s ironic that one thing every foreigner was worried about ten years ago – rightly so or not – was that certain entities were constantly tracking their every move… Now, everybody’s opting in to be checked out.