A common misunderstanding in the west suggests Internet entrepreneurs in China just copying whatever works in the west. I'm sure that's true in some cases, but I've written in the past about peer-to-peer TV where Chinese companies were several years ahead of Joost and others in the west.
Today, I noticed a fascinating post by a blogger operating under the name Sun Bin. He points to a mapping/ virtual earth website for Sanya, a resort city in Hainan province in southern China. If you are proficient in Chinese, try the website yourself. Otherwise, grok this:
Yes, this is just one city so it's hardly on the scale of Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth, but the user interface looks very interesting as it combines satellite photography, street maps, SimCity graphics and actual photographs of buildings, all in one beautiful graphic.
My point is not that Chinese entrepreneurs are ahead or behind, but that there are more Internet users in China than in the US, and the entrepreneurs that cater to them are smart and are doing interesting things that we seldom hear about in the English language blogsphere.
I follow a few bloggers, like Sun Bin and Gang Lu, who cover China in English (at least part of the time) and I try to maintain contacts with individuals I know in China, but it hardly makes up for not being able to read Chinese.