Baidu's Talk Is Cheap

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If you can't beat SINA's (NAS: SINA) Weibo, you may as well save some face.

Baidu (NAS: BIDU) is closing down Baidu Shuoba -- or Baidu Talk -- after a year of giving the microblogging market a shot.

SINA's Weibo has become a sensation in China. It is often described as the Twitter of China, though it's probably a closer match to the more feature-rich Tumblr. Once Chinese celebrities chose Weibo as the communicative platform of choice, the viral magic kicked in for SINA.

Baidu had initial success with Shuoba last year, signing up a million users during its first three months in beta. I guess there's a reason Baidu didn't talk up the site much after that.

The Wall Street Journal's China Realtime Report blog reports that the site stopped accepting new user posts this week. A notice on the site explains that Baidu Shuoba will shut down completely on Aug. 22.

Stateside users know the drill. Google (NAS: GOOG) and Yahoo! (NAS: YHOO) have a long history of shuttering what isn't working if their resources can be better deployed elsewhere. But that doesn't mean we have to like the practice. Early adopters who get burned in the process find it harder to trust future rollouts from dot-com titans. One of the reasons the success of Google+ has taken a lot of us by surprise is that Big G usually has a quick trigger finger in killing off its social side projects.

Baidu is directing users to consider the site's older message boards and Q&A service, but neither will be a match for what drew Baidu Talk users to the microblogging service. They'll just join the masses at SINA Weibo or at Tencent's clone.

It's hard to argue with Baidu's tactics. Revenue soared 78% in its latest quarter, with profitability nearly doubling. Clearly, the company knows how to grow a business. However, that won't stop me from second-guessing this move. Sometimes you miss the macro picture, even when you're nixing a microblogging site.

Is Baidu right or wrong to shut down Baidu Talk? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.



At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Yahoo! and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Baidu, SINA, Yahoo!, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz admires China's dot-com revolution. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this article and is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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