Home QQ – China IM Service Goes Web 2.0, With Half a Billion Registered Users!

QQ – China IM Service Goes Web 2.0, With Half a Billion Registered Users!

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.

Founded by
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!

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

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.comQQ 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! 

QQ.com is in the global top 10 websites in the world, as ranked by Alexa.com. As of now, it is number
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
service – an IPTV solution, bundled with QQ’s other services such as IM and

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

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