Tudou.com – Aiming to be the YouTube in China

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China never fails to amaze me with the number of “copycat” websites adapting successful business model in the US for use in China. Was reading this article on TechCrunch on Tudou.com – aiming to be the YouTube in China. Tudou is one of two companies left fighting it out to be the YouTube of China (the other company is YouKu). Both burning through hundreds of millions between them trying to find what YouTube still hasn’t: A way for online advertising to pay for video’s outrageous broadband costs.

Just last week, Tudou won a deal to be the online video channel for China Mobile. So far video can only run on high-end phones and much of China can’t even get 2G access, let alone 3G. However, Tudou is optimistic about the future as China Mobile is investing some 58 million RMB to build out 3G infrastructure in China. China Mobile is also planning video-subscription plans that offer unlimited uploading and downloading of video for the equivalent of 75 cents a month – that makes it very affordable for the masses to upload and download videos – throwing the floodgate of user generate video in China wide open.

In addition, they foresee the changing of technology as Taiwan chip company MTK is developing chipsets that allow very low-end phones the ability to download and upload video – this means that even with a low-end handset, consumers would be able to view video on their mobile phone.  And lastly, in China people are replacing their handsets roughly every nine months. That means all of these changes could ripple out faster than if they required, day, a PC upgrade cycle to complete.

Tudou sees mobile video starting to take off in 2010, growing rapidly in 2011, and in 2012 generating enough actual revenues to equal what it makes in traditional online advertising. In the mean time, content being king, the company is running around Asia doing content deals to add professionally produced, non-pirated content to the 30 million pieces of video inventory Tudou has already. The company is also producing a ton of original content and reality TV shows for its website.

Being curious, I went over to Tudou.com to try out its services on my 100 Mbps line and the video content download experience have been very slow (maybe because Tudou’s server is in China and optimize for use in China). Guess there will still be a need to invest in their video hosting servers if they were to target audiences outside China. I had yet had the chance to test out the services in China to see if the download experience is the same….any feedback on their video download experience in China would be great.

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