Written by Gang Lu and edited by Richard MacManus. China's QQ.com is the world's 9th largest web property and in this post Gang Lu talks with Richard Chang, the Founder and Director of QQ Labs, to find out more about their Web 2.0 plans.
Pony Ma in Shenzhen, China, in November 1998, Tencent is now recognized as the leading provider of Internet, mobile & telecommunications value-added services in China. QQ, Tencent's instant messaging service platform, officially launched in Feb 1999 and announced in its 2006 Q3 report that it has 221.4 million active users. What's more, the total registered user accounts has climbed to 572.3 million!Founded by
Tencent Innovation Center, also called QQ Labs, was founded in May 2005 and acts as QQ's Web2.0 service incubator. So far it has launched Tencent's web2.0 service QQVideo and a social bookmarking service called QQ Bookmark is in public beta testing. So this Chinese IM giant is obviously showing a lot of interest in the web2.0 market.
We recently interviewed Richard Chang, the Founder and Director of QQ Labs. In this talk with Richard, we cover Tencent's business model, its web2.0 services and the overall mission of QQ Labs.
Tencent's Industry Model
QQ.com, QQ Game, QQ Zone, QQ Show, Paipai.com, and more. All of these services have been seamlessly integrated with QQ IM and can be accessed with a user's QQ account. QQ even introduced a virtual currency named Q-coin, which can be used by QQ users to buy their IM avatar's virtual clothes, hairstyles, furniture - and even virtual pet food for their virtual pets!Richard told us that Tencent's industry model is unique in the global market and that all of their current businesses are built on top of the QQ IM service and its user base. QQ is famous for its IM client, but after 7 years QQ has built up several more excellent services -
QQ.com is in the global top 10 websites in the world, as ranked by Alexa.com. As of now, it is number 9 in the world - just behind Orkut and Windows Live. It has also made some sharp business moves. For example Tencent partnered with China Mobile, the state-owned mobile operator, to offer mobile messaging services such as QQ ringtone downloads, QQ MMS, and similar services. And earlier this year, Tencent and TCL announced a joint iTQQ service - an IPTV solution, bundled with QQ's other services such as IM and games.
QQ's Web2.0 Services
According to Richard Chang, Tencent's goal is to become the most respected Internet company in China. He told us that while you can already see lots of web2.0 characteristics in their current services, he hopes that QQ Labs can offer even more web2.0 services and interesting web-based applications to QQ's user base.
QQVideo, a video-sharing site, was the first web2.0 service developed by QQ Labs. There are over 200 YouTube-like services already in China, but Richard Chang thinks that QQVideo can be special. He said that QQVideo has a user base from the very beginning - and it is those users that "help us decide what should and what should not [be] in the video-sharing site". Some neat features in the service are: Online Recording, V-Pub, Views Details (where the user can track on which sites a video is embedded and played).
The QQ Bookmark service is a very nice del.icio.us-like service. But the most important thing about it is that QQ can integrate this service with its hugely popular IM service and so encourage its millions of users to share their favorite websites and stories.
The Mission of QQ Labs
It is an interesting phenomenon in the Chinese Internet that QQ IM might be the first Internet experience for many Chinese netizens, especially for young people who get on the Internet because all their friends are on QQ . If you are a professional or experienced on the Internet, it should be easy to understand the new ideas of retrieving, publishing and sharing content via technology like RSS feeds, blogging, widgets and web-based applications such as online bookmarking. However most Chinese netizens don't know what RSS is, or how to use feeds, or the benefits of using online bookmarks.
"QQ has a massive user base, and it can be [a] very effective channel to distribute the concept of web2.0 to the Chinese netizen", Richard Chang told us. "Our mission", he said, "is not only to create new services, but also to help the Chinese Internet [become] more mature."
Chinese Internet ramping up in 2007
The Web space in China is heating up. Myspace.cn will be launched in China this year and will join the existing social network competition there. Also Baidu, the leading search engine in China, has announced it will move into the Japanese market in 2007. So there will be lots of news - inwards and outwards - from the Chinese Internet this year; and as part of that it will be interesting to see how QQ expands its kingdom abroad.