It is reported that Qihoo requests its staff using IM chat app Line, and forbids using any other IM apps — including WeChat — on their work. Qihoo declined to comment (report in Chinese). But the news brings people’s focus on Line’s strategy in China again.
Line officially announced its entry into China in December 2012, with a Chinese name Lian Wo. Its Chinese partner is Qihoo, who has large market share in China in terms of antivirus and internet security. In China, Line was debuted through Qihoo’s 360 Mobile Assistant. It was expected that Qihoo’d help promote it in China, hoping to, to some extent, challenge WeChat. But half a year later, few have we heard about its moves.
China’s market is crowded with messaging apps similar to Line and WeChat. Miliao by Xiaomi was launched earlier than WeChat. However, it was caught up by WeChat. Early this year, Tencent announced that the number of WeChat users had hit 300 million. Till now, the main users of Miliao are limited to users of MIUI, the customized Android system by Xiaomi. Qihoo also launched Kouxin, another such service, earlier than WeChat.
In my opinion, the main reason for WeChat’s fast expansion is the large number of users migrating from QQ on which Tencent has been working for over 10 years. Features such as Moments, Look Around and Shake are quite popular among users. And now Tencent is trying to make WeChat a more diverse platform, such as official accounts for businesses.
Line was launched in June, 2011(wiki). Up to now, it has over 100 millions users in 230 countries and regions. It is the top app in 41 countries. That many famous pop stars, artists from Korea and Japan, such as Girl’s Generation, are on Line attracted large audiences. Line users can make free calls to each other when connected to the Internet. But given the 3G network condition in China, whether this feature could be an advantage is still a doubt. And it is said that WeChat is going to include such feature as well.