Ever since Kik hit a sensational success overnight, we have seen its Chinese counterparts mushrooming here with Weixin (means micro message, by Tencent), MiLiao (by Xiaomi Tech), Feidou (by Kaixin001) and Youni (by Shanda) competing against each other with pretty much the same non-thinking imaginationless features, to name a few, “free short messages” via GPRS or 3G network (you still have to pay for GPRS fee though), group messaging, social contacts based on your cellphone’s contact list which according to me is the next waterfront that every mobile apps vendor will be scrambling for, a few of them are aware and fast enough to combine walkie-talkie function as well.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them. Kaixin, the once popular now struggling Chinese SNS, released its own Kik-like offering late this March. But it seems the product has been discontinued. Visiting its homepage will refer us to the homepage of Kaixin. Period.
Youni used to know as Kiki – could you be more like Kik? – and rebranded itself as Youni (means have you) later on. Youni offers its users with person to person short messages via GPRS, no group messaging feature according to its introduction on the official website. I think lots of people will be wondering, we don’t care that much if you’re copying or innovating, but if you decide on copying, could you please at least copy the whole package.
As for MiLiao, yes it’s more promising and cares enough to innovate on top of what Kik and Talkbox already offer with attractive handwriting short message function alongside (group) short messaging, voice messaging and social contacts feature. MiLiao leader is kinda hoping the company could undermine Tencent’s penguin empire (Tencent is featuring a penguin with scarf) with first-strike advantage in mobile area. MiLiao claimed over 2 million users as of this May.
screenshot of Miliao users playing gobang through its handwriting feture
Well, not likely if Tencent is also making strides and evolving even more. Tencent’s Weixin, which just released its latest iPhone app (version 2.5) couple days ago, has incorporated video messaging, LBS feature and bit sense of elastic social networking as well.
Except for what Kik and Talkbox offer, Weixin now let its users shoot and send video clips whenever they want and wherever they are. With LBS, you can locate people who’re also using Weixin right around you. The night Weixin was launched, Sina Weibo was flooded with posts raving about these new features.
Besides new functions, one more thing Tencent can leverage – the cliché is coming, but yet its true – is its huge user base. Most of Chinese people have QQ accounts, Weixin is based on these. If you want to use Weixin, the only thing you need to do is to have it downloaded and installed, then you can see how many of your QQ buddies have already used it. While Youni, MiLiao have to build their own user base gradually.
But the fight hasn’t over yet. Xiaomi Tech, the vendor of MiLiao is announcing its branded Android smart phone Xiaomi Phone on this 16th at 798 Art Zone, Beijing. It’s foreseeable Xiaomi Phone will integrate all of Xiaomi Tech’s mobile apps, MiLiao included.
The post-kik war of social contacts is just getting started.