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Has Facebook Found A New Secret Way To Enter China?

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Facebook has long been trying to enter the lucrative Chinese market, but its efforts so far have not been very successful. However, it seems that the social networking giant has found a new way to enter China.

Does Facebook own Colorful Balloons?

A new app called  Colorful Balloons is in the news currently. The app’s working is similar to that of Facebook’s Moments app, according to its description on the Chinese app store.

“Colorful Balloons can group users’ phone pictures and videos based on time, locations and characters. It can help you create albums and share them with friends and family,” the description reads.

The news about the app was first reported by The New York Times. The app asks users to register with a Chinese cell number. Citing a post in Apple’s App Store; the Times noted that the app, which was developed and released in China by Youge Internet Technology, bears no hint of any connection with Facebook.

Despite this, it is being claimed that the app belongs to Facebook, which has long been trying to enter the Chinese market. A person familiar with the matter also told CNNMoney that it is a Facebook app.

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways. Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to the Times.

Muted response

Due to the ban on Facebook and Twitter, homegrown Chinese apps such as WeChat (a messaging app that works like WhatsApp) and Weibo (which works like Twitter) have grown in popularity. This could be why the app has not been received well in China, neither by the media, nor by consumers, notes Quartz.

The app’s highest ranking ever was when it was the 313th most-downloaded app in the Photo and Video category. In wasn’t able to enter the Overall category in China. However, since the news of its connection with Facebook is out, Colorful Balloons’ ranking has improved. On Sunday, it was ranked 46th in Photo and Video and 758 in Overall, notes Quartz.

What this means for Facebook

The response to the app points to the fact that the journey for CEO Mark Zuckerberg will really be a difficult one if he is planning to rule the Chinese market. Zuckerberg has seen his company quickly go up the success ladder with Facebook now having more than 2 billion users around the world. The thirst for bigger success has left the company wanting more, and thus, Zuckerberg is looking to add users from China next.

However, the under-the-table approach that Facebook may have adopted might hurt it in future, since the Chinese government is very strict when it comes to foreign tech companies.

Teng Bingsheng, a strategic management professor at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, told the Times, “It’s not a mere business thing. It’s politics.”

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Aman Jain
Personal Finance Writer

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