The concurrent user accounts of QQ, the instant messaging service of Tencent, reached a new record of 200 million on the night of April 11 (Beijing Time).
QQ, with PC-based versions and mobile apps, had 808 million monthly active users as of the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the earnings report, and the concurrent users were 180 million in that quarter.
It’s been four years since the company announced the 100 million record. Now more than 70% of the concurrent users log in through the Mobile QQ app, according to the company. It’s not surprising for, while many users only log into the PC-based QQ client when needed, almost all users who have downloaded QQ mobile apps into their phones would log in automatically.
Although WeChat (or Weixin in Chinese) is now one of the most popular mobile messaging apps in China and many former QQ users shifted to it, a considerable percentage of Tencent’s users are still communicating with contacts through Mobile QQ.
There was a time that the user interface of Mobile QQ’s wasn’t so good as WeChat’s — it simply moved PC-based features onto the mobile app and wasn’t that easy to use. But after WeChat got traction, the Mobile QQ team resigned their UI. Though it would soon become a WeChat-style app, it cleverly kept some features or services that had been appealing to QQ users.
For a lot of existing QQ users, Mobile QQ now is good enough to stick with, for 1) Q-zone, the Facebook-like social sharing platform with 625 monthly active users in Q4 2013, hasn’t been integrated into WeChat, 2) Mobile QQ’s design and offerings are cuter than WeChat’s that are more appealing to some long-time QQ users, 3) some contacts of QQ users’ are not on WeChat.
Also users like me who seldom use QQ would stay logged-in on mobile devices in case some contacts would send messages through QQ instead of WeChat.
Recently WeChat user growth seemed to be declining. The fourth quarter of 2013 only saw 6% quarter-over-quarter increase in monthly active users. Since August 2013 when WeChat reached 100 million overseas users the company hasn’t made any new announcement on that, which implies that user base hasn’t grown that fast overseas.
Currently both WeChat and Mobile QQ are monetizing through mobile gaming, paid stickers and the like. It is estimated that it’s easier to monetize Mobile QQ through those approaches than WeChat as QQ users are used to consuming gaming and virtual items with QQ Coin, the virtual currency used in QQ ecosystem.
WeChat has started experimenting with new approaches such as a self-serve advertising system for Subscription Accounts, and m-commerce which is supported by WeChat Payment, but it must take some time to see how well those services will be accepted by users or businesses.