With Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s suite of apps blocked in China the social media giant has now turned to releasing an app in the world’s most populous country that does not bear the Facebook identity. Sources indicate that the photo-sharing app known as Colorful Balloons was released in May. The app, which looks and feels like the Moments app, was unveiled via separate local firm and does not give away any indication that it is affiliated with Facebook.
The anonymous and stealthy release of the app by Facebook in the Chinese market is unprecedented and illustrates the frustration and desperation of giant tech firms in their bid to access the largest online market in the world. It also demonstrates that they have become aware that accessing the Chinese market requires a different set of rules compared to other parts of the world.
Internet censorship in China has sidelines big player such as Google and Facebook who have failed to profit from a major boom currently being experience. At the moment there are over 700 million Chinese using the internet and on annual basis their online purchases amount to approximately $750 billion. Most of these revenues go to local firms which have come up with their own modus operandi which is alien to players from Silicon Valley.
Facebook hopes to learn and possibly adapt itself to suit the Chinese market. However it was banned in 2009. Facebook-owned Instagram was also banned three years ago. WhatsApp, another Facebook property, was also partially blocked in July. Facebook is now hoping that the Colorful Balloons app will buck the trend.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways,” said Facebook in a statement.
So far it is not clear whether the various internet regulators in China are aware of the existence of Colorful Balloons. According to an online post, Youge Internet Technology is the firm that that released Colorful Balloons in China.
On Friday shares of Facebook Inc rose by 0.41% to close the day at $168.08.