The first obstacle for Weibo’s new social app showed up fast. Within two days of its release, Oasis, Weibo’s new Instagram-like app, has already vanished from Chinese app stores.

Oasis launched on Monday as an invite-only platform that was effectively a mash-up of features from Instagram and Chinese social shopping app Xiaohongshu. Invite codes started circulating online soon after launch.

Discussions of Oasis started trending on both Weibo and China’s Quora-like site Zhihu, suggesting there was some excitement for the new app. But large-scale public attention also comes with greater scrutiny. 

By Wednesday, users were claiming that the Oasis logo looks very similar to this image from a South Korean design firm, created for the country’s Ulju Mountain Film Festival in 2015.

The Oasis logo (left) and the design for the Ulju Mountain Film Festival (right). (Picture: Oasis and Studio fnt)

Soon after people started making the connection online, the app could no longer be found on iOS and Android app stores. Users speculated that the logo was the reason. Weibo CEO Gaofei Wang seemed to confirm this with a comment on the microblogging site.

“Discovered, and it’s been pulled from shelves,” Wang commented on a tech blogger’s post about the logo.

We reached out to Weibo for comment and will update if we receive a response.

Like Instagram, Oasis lets users post pictures, follow others and interact with their posts. The interfaces also look remarkably similar.

It looks like the logo isn’t the only thing about Oasis that's borrowing ideas from elsewhere. (Picture: Oasis and Instagram)

Oasis also has features that resemble Xiaohongshu, which pioneered “social shopping” in China.

Xiaohongshu has a huge community of users who share shopping tips and in-depth product reviews (and sometimes their experience with plastic surgery). Users can also tag products in their posts, potentially driving sales on the company’s own ecommerce platform. 

The popularity of Xiaohongshu may have been too much for Weibo to ignore. So Oasis also lets users tag brands in their posts, although trying to click on those tags won’t lead anywhere yet. The interface of Oasis’s recommended content page also looks like a similar page on Xiaohongshu.

The popularity of social shopping is unique in China. Big social platforms in the US have dabbled in it, but it hasn’t really taken off. Unlike Oasis, Instagram only lets users who are approved to set up shops tag brands in their posts. Instagram and Pinterest both introduced buy buttons, but it’s not clear users are keen on doing their actual shopping on social networks, even as many enjoy using them to discover new products. Twitter introduced its own buy button in 2014 and phased it out a few years later.

In contrast, social ecommerce has exploded in China. The sector could be worth as much as US$180 billion by 2021.