The nation's favorite internet services portal (don't tell Sina I wrote that) is heading for a very productive year in 2013 judged by its status at the end of this year.
The company behind QQ and Weixin - also known as WeChat - now has a stake in 10 e-commerce companies and has announced it will be jointly operated with 57buy.com. Although both companies will continue using their respective business models, the back end of these companies will be run together.
News from the CEO is that next year will be all about the mobile services offered through WeChat. It seems this is true of many companies as everyone is frantically trying to capitalize and adapt to a growing smartphone and mobile internet market.
What do the numbers say?
A quick look at the recently published "Highlights of 2012's 3rd quarter" shows total revenues close to USD 1,823 million. But more interestingly, e-commerce revenues jumped to USD 178.8 million for the 3rd quarter - up a massive 32,2% from last quarter.
Furthermore, more and more shopping centers are using QR codes to promote products and services which are scanned and appear through WeChat - subsequently creating great promotion for Tencent and cementing its position as one of the most popular web portals in China at the moment.
Although numbers must be considered cautiously and an increase now does not necessarily mean the company will stay at the top of its game; if the company can keep up its momentum, chances are it will still be around to blog about in the years to come.
World’s largest social network service Facebook hopes to grow in Asia, and notably in China, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.
World's largest SNS
Founded in 2004, Facebook now has almost 500 million members.
The company is looking for other ways to maintain its growth driven now by non-English languages, in particular French, Spanish, Turkish and Indonesian. The objective is to reach 1 billion users.
Facebook to go local
Mark Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook would soon begin to make its first strategic local moves and do specific things in specific countries. He did not specify whether that would involve local customisation of Facebook in those countries, or some sort of corporate activity.
He also pointed out that mobile internet would be a driver of growth in social media.
Facebook wants to take the lead in the Asian SNS market
Among the countries for the next phase of expansion, Mark Zuckerber quoted China, Russia, South-Korea and Japan where Facebook isn't the leading social network.
Facebook faces fierce competition with Chinese social networks such as Tencent QQ, Renren Network (former Xiaonei) and Kaixin001 (see our article about SNSs in China). But as you know, Facebook is still blocked in China, so I don't really understand how Facebook intends to gain users unless it buys one of these companies.
Other local Asian SNS leaders include Cyworld in South Korea, Mixi in Japan and Vkontakte in Russia.
Interview by THEM of marc violo, who is in charge of the development of QQI among foreigners in China, for the Chinese Instant Messenger Leader Tencent.
1) Can you explain what is the english version of qq (qqi)? is it the same plateform as the chinese qq? can we communicate with chinese qq?
QQ International goes far beyond the previous English versions of QQ (QQ2009) which have been launched in the past. We’re developing a great community project which started by the launch of an IM (instant messenger) but has many more social and informative perspectives to it, both online and offline.
This IM integrates the usual chat functions, but also offers many integrated applications which have one goal: providing all the information and tools foreigners might need when living in China. Applications can be internally developed (weather, clock, translator apps) or by partners (CityWeekend, ChinesePod, ChinaDaily, ICS …), and our aim is to provide the widest variety of apps possible.
When registering on QQ International (www.imqq.com), you are given a QQ number which is totally compatible with the other 500 million active QQ accounts. We want to offer a way for foreigners living in China to connect and share with Chinese English speakers, while enjoying a panel of useful daily tools.
2) Do you think of translating it to other languages to extend its use by foreigners?
The Beta3 version is under development (released early February) and will allow users to select among English, Japanese and French to use QQ International. It’s only a start, we’ll be developing more languages in the upcoming year.
3) who do you target with this new product, foreigners in china, or the western world?
We target all foreigners living in China or having a connection with China, might it be for business or personal reasons. All of them have something to gain from QQ international; might it be to constantly stay connected to their very valuable Chinese network and expanding it by meeting people of similar interest, of various nationalities on the platform, or by using the available applications.
4) what are the advantages of qq as compared to other IM like msn, gtalk, etc.?
The first one is that we are a China focused community tool for foreigners; all QQ International developments are made in order to provide more useful features to people living the Chinese adventure, trying to reach and exceed foreigner’s expectations and user experience when it comes to such web related community platforms.
The second one is the number of users people can connect to. QQ numbers or ids are part of the Chinese modern lifestyle and despising them would just cut someone off a large chunk of the Chinese population. One other major advantage is that QQ International goes beyond a simple IM, it will soon release a very complete information platform, other web community services (which we’ll keep in the dark for now), and various off-line events of different scale in different cities of China. The idea behind the QQ International community is to meet online and pursue your experience offline, or the other way around.
5) what is the strategy of qq to grab market shares in the west?
We’re not looking at expanding QQ International outside of China in the short or medium term. We have only one goal which is to be present in every foreign mind living or travelling in China. Basically, when a non-Chinese arrives in China, the first thing he should be told by his peers is “Just connect to QQ International, you’ll have all the information you need and you’ll meet loads of other foreign and Chinese people!”.
6) will qq turn into a true global company by having offices in europe? the usa?
Hard to say for now. I know Tencent started his international venture with online gaming with offices in Boston and San Francisco, but for QQ or QQ International, we’ll have to wait and see.
7) how many qqi users do you have now? how many do you think you will have in the future?
Three month after its official launch we have close to 50,000 daily unique users. There’s no limit to the number of users we think of having in the next couple of years. It can easily extend its reach naturally to other Asian countries or as I previously mentioned, to the increasing number of people in the world who need to stay connected with China.
8) can you introduce yourself Marc Violo?
I’m a French native with an international background, having lived in countries as diverse as India, Germany or the United states. I’ve been working for 2 years in China in business consulting with a web focus to it and enjoying my experience and encounters here a lot. I joined Tencent as a Product Manager specifically to lead the development of QQ International and to represent its associated values to all partners and people we deal with.
9) what are you going to adapt to westerners? what are the cultural differences you can point out in the use of qq?
The chat experience is indeed completely different from a Chinese perspective compared to a western one. We emphasize the aspect of easy access to useful content and customizable applications. We also recommend groups created by or for foreigners, such as “English People in China”, for them to gather and exchange on similar interest topics. Westerners need to be accompanied in their chat experience when it involves meeting new people online, whereas it is very frequently observed in the modern Chinese web culture. The information portal (www.imqq.com) will also be one of the breakthrough of this community project, as it will mix China focused news, events and listings as well as language tips, QQ groups and more; unique in China.
10) Do you fear to be blocked in the west because you are chinese?
I’ve honestly not asked myself that question so far, but the first thing that comes to my mind is that I’ve rarely seen any site or community platform blocked in the west, so I really don’t see a reason why the fact of being Chinese could be an issue.
* THEM guess : this might be qq's first step... to the west! using the foreigners in china to start the "going west strategy", appear as an excellent idea to me.
THEM is the founder of "Internet in China" group on QQI, just join us with the number ( 95471836 ). see you soon on qqi.