Tencent’s annual business partner conference has been rebranded as its “Global Partner Conference”. The two-day meeting started yesterday, with some interesting foreign faces in attendance. What’s even more interesting, chipmakers Intel and Broadcom showed up as partners of Tencent, a business long known as a software company.
Along with international partners, Tencent also plans to introduce hardware manufacturers and traditional offline businesses as new partners for its open platform. Programming interfaces for connected hardware products to integrate with WeChat and Mobile QQ, its flagship mobile messaging apps, have been launched earlier this year.
Three years ago Tencent had few partners in China. It was notorious for being unwilling to partner with third parties; instead, it would develop me-too apps or services in-house. But as of now there have been 2.4 million apps on MyApp, Tencent’s Android app store, and five million developers using the Tencent platform, Mark Ren, Tencent COO, disclosed today.
Tencent has released more than 10,000 programming interfaces in the past three years for developers to take advantage of its resources and huge user base. Third-party apps monetize on Tencent platform through in-app offerings, the advertising network Guang Dian Tong (on which apps can place ads on Tencent’s social products such as QQ IM, Q-zone and Pengyou.com). Online/mobile payments are supported by Tenpay (Tencent’s equivalent of Alibaba Alipay), WeChat Payment, and QQ Coin (the virtual currency used across Tencent’s products). Tencent and developers share income based on a tiered revenue share plan.
As of June 2014, 22 startups on Tencent’s platform saw over RMB100 million (US$16mn) monthly turnover, according to Dowson Tang, a senior vice president.
The number of developers has increased fourfold in the past year, according to the company. Fifty per cent of entrepreneurs on its platform are aged under 25, and there are increasing numbers of small teams.
Still, many Chinese developers are not satisfied with or trust Tencent, claiming it only helps apps that make big profits and that it takes too large a revenue share. But still more would like to, or have to, work with Tencent, given its more than 800 million monthly active QQ IM accounts (with 200 million concurrent accounts) and 439 million monthly active WeChat users in the domestic market and overseas. It remains a strong draw for partners.