Founded by Pony Ma in Shenzhen, China in November, 1998, Tencent is now recognized as the leading provider of Internet and mobile & telecommunications value-added services in China. QQ, Tencent’s instant messaging service platform officially launched in Feb 1999, announced in its 2006 third quarter report: the number of its active users have reached to 221.4 million, and the total registered user accounts has climbed at 572.3 million!
Tencent Innovation Center, also called QQ Labs which founded in May 2005, as the QQ’s Web2.0 service incubator has launched Tencent’s web2.0 service QQVideo, and another social bookmarking service called QQ Bookmark is also in public beta testing. This Chinese IM giant has obviously shown its interests and effort to the web2.0 market. We recently interviewed Richard Chang, the Founder and Director of QQ Labs. The talk with Richard covered the Tencent’s industry model, the web2.0 services and the mission of QQ Labs.
Tencent’s Industry Model
Richard said Tencent’s industry model is unique in the global market and all our current business are built on the QQ IM and its user base. QQ is famous for its IM client, but after 7 years since it started, QQ has built up several more excellent services,e.g. QQ.com, QQ Game, QQ Zone, QQ Show, Paipai.com, etc. All these services have been seamlessly integrated with QQ IM and can be accessed with QQ account. QQ even introduced a virtual currency named Q-coin which can be used by QQ users to buy their virtual character’s virtual cloths, hairstyles, furniture and even virtual pet food for their virtual pets. QQ.com now is the global top 10 website ranked by Alexa.com. Tencent also partnered with China Mobile, the state-owned mobile operator to offer mobile messaging services, such as QQ ringtone download, QQ MMS etc. Early this year, Tencent and TCL has announced iTQQ service, an IPTV service with QQ’s other services such as IM and games.
QQ’s Web2.0 Services
Tencent’s goal is to become the most respected Internet company. web-based application is the trend of the Internet industry, so we founded the QQ Labs. You can already find a lots of web2.0 characteristic from our current services, but we hope QQ Labs can offer more web2.0 services and interesting web-based applications to QQ’s user, Richard said. QQVideo, a video-sharing site is the first web2.0 service developed by QQ Labs. There are over 200 YouTube-like services existing in China, but QQVideo can be special. QQVideo has its user-base from the very beginning, it is them help us decide what should and what should not have in a video-sharing site, Richard told us. Some nice features include Online Recording, V-Pub, Views Details (the user can track on which sites this video is embeded and played).
The Mission of QQ Labs
It has become an interesting phenomenon in Chinese Internet that QQ IM might be the first Internet experience for the Chinese netizens, specially for the young people who gets on Internet because all his friends are on QQ . If you are professional or experienced, it should be easy to understand the new ideas of retrieving, publishing and sharing the contents by using some technology like RSS feeds, blogging, widgets etc and web-based applications such as online bookmarks. However, for most of the Chinese netizens, they do not know what is RSS, how to use feeds and what is the benefit of using online bookmarks. QQ has a massive user base, and it can be very effective channel to distribute the concept of web2.0 to the Chinese netizen, Richard said, Our mission is not only to create new services and but also to help the Chinese Internet to be more mature. Richard invited us to give a go on the QQ Bookmark service. It is a very nice del.icio.us-like service, and the most important thing here is that QQ can integrate this service to its IM and encourage its millions of users to share their personal favorites.
Myspace.cn will be launched in China this year and join the social network competition, and we also see that Baidu, the leading search engine provider in China has announced its movement into Japanese market in 2007. In and Out, there will be lots of news from Chinese Internet this year, and it will be interesting to see how QQ expand its kingdom abroad.