Chinese Portals Battle for Attention, Visitors

Perhaps hoping to puncture the high hopes China.com built up this week with its successful stock debut, top competitor SINA.com announced today it remains the top portal in China. SINA.com, which has been online since 1995, cited a recently released survey by the China Network Information Center, an official Internet statistics agency in China.

According to the survey, which analyzed Internet use in China over the first six months of this year, SINA.com improved its ranking from number five to number one. SINA.com said Southeast Asian consulting firm Consult.com also placed SINA.com at the top of the most visited sites list in its survey released last month.

China.com, by contrast, ranked 39th, most notably behind number 37 site NBA.com from the United States, according to independent Chinese statistics firm The China Matrix. CNNIC survey respondents also listed SINA.com as the site most often designated as the home page their Web browsers open to. China.com failed to make the list of 60 home pages survey participants named, The China Matrix said.

SINA’s Success

SINA.com attributes the improvement to its focus on providing local news and one-stop shopping for information services and retail products. SINA.com was created by the December 1998 merger of two of the largest Chinese Web sites in the world: SINANET.com of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Stone Rich Sight Information Technology Company Ltd. of Beijing.

Though it is a relative newcomer, China.com, grabbed headlines this week with a strong IPO. Shares of China.com went public Tuesday at $20 and gained 47-7/64 to close the day at 67-7/64, a gain of nearly 236 percent. The site is jointly owned by the Chinese government and top U.S. portal company America Online.

Also in the Study

Though the two Chinese portals are duking it out for Chinese eyeballs, the country appears to have plenty of Internet users to go around. According to the CNNIC study, the number of Chinese residents on the Internet doubled in the first six months of this year to 4 million. That growth continues an exponential trend, as Chinas users had doubled from 1 million to 2 million in the last six months of 1998.

Among Chinese Internet surfers, 44 percent log on from home, and 46 percent pay for their own Internet access. About 86 percent of survey respondents have at least an undergraduate degree, and 79 percent have higher than average income. SINA.com, which like most Internet companies is vying for advertising revenue and business interests as well as visitors, hailed this data as a strong indication that Chinese consumers are rapidly accepting the Internet and willing to spend money on it.

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