They said nothing grows in the shadow of big tree. Both launched the newest 5.0 version lately, Wechat has stimulated wild excitement in China while Jiepang has been somewhat neglected. Had it not been the chance of bumping into Jiepang’s PR director, I would not have noticed the new makeover of this app. “You know I have not used Jiepang for ages as I am tired of check in” was my rather harsh opening for my conversation with Jiepang PR.

In US, Foursquare seems to pass its heyday, struggling in continuing user acquisition. So to keep head above water, Foursquare is now pivoted to location based search, discovery engine and personalized recommendation.  

Jiepang, founded in 2010, started out an exact clone of Foursquare in China. In 2012, trend of “LBS Check In” also drastically waned down in this country. So several Foursquare clones called “quit”, but very few remain and Jiepang is one of them right now.   

Of course, to survive, Jiepang also needed to reinvent itself, and this time, something different from Foursqaure, that is becoming, they would like to call “a holistic check-in social network”.

Therefore apart from “Check in Location”, now you would share “who” you are with, add and filter photo (imitate Instagram), select one of the 16 activity tag etc. So basically it is putting in more contextual and pictorial background for your “check in” or Jiepang might want to express it as a “documentary way of recording your daily life”

However it still bothers me in many ways.

1)       Isn’t Wechat not “contextual and pictorial social” enough? Wechat can come up much more appealing “Social Check In” than Jiepang and it is just a matter whether Wechat wants to do this or not. In China internet giants often do not leave out empty and fertile ground for other players to grow.

2)       Do I really want to do this kind of recording life every day? What if I am getting bored of live broadcasting my daily activity? What about people who suddenly want some privacy? (Definitely not a good idea for someone who would like to cheat behind and have a little love affair, anyhow just joking here)

3)       Jiepang now claimed to have 5 million users, but how active they are? Could be someone like me, already a zombie? For my case, every popular social app has “the 7 months itch” to retain my interests.

4)       Jiepang still mainly targets at youngsters from first or second tier cities in China. Because metropolitans often have interesting places to go. However the country’s vast digital population can be characterized as “Diaosi” refers to ordinary, humble, middel to low inocme men&women in this society. It is said whoever truly understands the needs from these “Diaosi”, you are actually digging into an online “gold mine”.

Do these Diaosi have so many cool places to check in and show off? Do Diaosi have so many opportunities to travel around? Will Jiepang be able to attract them? Bear in mind, CEO of Jieapang, David Liu is a Taiwanese American. Does he have this innate local culture and insights to tap into the mindset of these “Diaosi”?

In conclusion, either Foursquare or Jiepang, this kind of business model is easily monetized at the outset, via advertising support, badge campaign or offer LBS data analysis for retailers and brands. However all these revenues depend on whether you are able to maintain high online traffics and active users. “Check-In” already started to show sign of sluggish, and in whatever the revamping forms, so far the soul of “check in” stays and I wonder how long it would hold onto the attention span of China netizens. Under the shadow of Wechat and Sina Weibo, the fate of Jiepang appears to hang in the balance.

By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager