2013 will be the “Year of Mobile” according to Sina CEO Charles Chao, who sent a company-wide email detailing the Chinese Internet giant’s plan to restructure their marketing strategy entirely and adopt a “mobile-first” approach. According to Chao, Sina will split its business into two parts: the web portal and Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging platform that currently counts over 400 million users. The divisions will operate as separate entities from each other, and each will have its own products, technology, operations and mobile and PC departments. Chao says that he will spend more time to build up the Weibo portion of the company and Sina COO Du Hong will lead the portal side.

In the email that Chao sent to company employees, he writes “‘Mobile first’ demands the company, from top to bottom, consciously embrace mobile, and requires the ability to enhance the understanding of mobile, and shift to mobile resources.” He goes on to say that mobile will present “both an opportunity and a challenge for Sina.”

Sina’s reevaluation of its mobile strategy is, in no small part, due to increasing pressure from competitors. Earlier this year, Sina said that users time spent on Weibo is down because many are migrating over to competitor TenCent’s WeChat messaging service. In an effort to compete with WeChat, Sina said that the company will add some similar capabilities, such as private sharing, to their mobile offerings. According to Q1 2012 numbers, TenCent is already significantly ahead of Sina in monetizing mobile with 9.5% of its total revenue coming from mobile services. Chao wrote in his email that development of Sina’s mobile business has been “exceptionally quick” but they must continue to innovate new products to remain competitive. We’ll be on the lookout for them in the new year.

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