China's top micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo has signed a cooperation deal with AutoNavi Holdings Ltd, China's No 1 navigation provider by market share, to bring more location-based services to its mobile applications.
The move is believed to be Sina Weibo's latest attempt to turn its accounts, which number some 400 million, to profit.
Wang Gaofei, vice-president of Sina and general manager of Sina Mobile said the service is just the first step of cooperation with AutoNavi, and Sina will try more services on Weibo before it can generate profit.
Some 20 million users share location information on their Weibo accounts every day, and there are nearly 100 million AutoNavi free-map application users.
Analysts believe the location information provided by AutoNavi will help Sina to link online and offline shoppers, and may create huge opportunities for both companies.
Some players in the e-commerce sector, such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd, are establishing offline shoppers' groups, hoping large numbers of shoppers from the Web will also stimulate offline sales.
However, Wang said Sina is not likely to cultivate its own offline shopper groups anytime soon. He suggested the profit model for Weibo is yet to mature after more than three years of operation, and refused to predict when Weibo will start to generate profit.