The mobile internet industry in China witnessed two major breakthroughs in January 2013. One is that Mobile QQ exceeded 100 million users; the other one is that Wechat crossed 300 million user mark.

Tencent built an empire atop of QQ, expanded from the instant messaging desktop client to other areas like QZone, portal site, video site as well as ecommerce service. None of these would exist without QQ laying down the groundwork in the first place.

QQ is one of the most successful desktop software in Chinese internet market, and Mobile QQ is its mobile equivalent and nature extension on mobile end. However, the creation of Wechat genuinely adapts to the trend of mobile internet, which enabled its wild adoption and rapid growth. Neither Wechat nor mobile QQ will substitute the other one like many are suspected or hoped, since the two have their own trump cards.

The core differentiation between Mobile QQ and Wechat lies in their different positioning in the market.

Traditionally, QQ targets at the younger generation. Its user demographic remained unchanged over the past ten years. On the other hand, WeChat mainly attracts a group of users which are more mature and high-end. The two complement each other in terms of user demographic. The cooperation between the two could help Tencent monopolize domestic instant messaging market on both PC and mobile ends.

And if we look further into overseas market, QQ might be less appealing to foreign users, but WeChat already made substantially gains in overseas market. It has the potential to be successful outside of China.

In terms of monetization, mobile QQ and WeChat also had their own strong suits due to their different intrinsic nature. Mobile QQ for the sake of its youthful positioning could launch services like mobile gaming and entertaining apps based on its premise to cash in, while WeChat could explore the potential of mobile payment, lbs service and mobile commerce. It just not necessarily either Wechat or mobile QQ, they can certainly coexist for the greater benefits of Tencent.

Image credit: WeChat

Kang Zhou

Kang is a Tech writer, Event planner and Chairman of Beijing 3 Day Startup.

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  1. Most WeChat users abroad are overseas Chinese… Don’t get fooled by the numbers. WeChat can obviously become as big as the Chinese diaspora (1,5 billion people and more), perhaps conquering some fringe non-Chinese demographics that are closely linked to China for business or affective reasons. Chinese apps don’t have an easy time abroad: they face competition from Western first movers (Whatsapp for example, or the omnipresent Facebook itself!); there’s a generalized cultural aversion towards Chinese brands (and Chinese software = spyware and censorship); Apple can take over at any time with a clever move which makes use of its unique distribution (when MSN came out, ICQ was indeed a better product but Microsoft won hands down due to its distribution advantage). On the other hand it’d be interesting to see how QQ can take over the massive void left by MSN especially in developing markets.

    1. what most people dont get is that as long as you dont talk about overthrowing the Chinese govt, then you wont get censored. as for me, i like to talk about a lot of leftist stuff, so i stay away from skype because i know they are monitored by the nsa. it’s nice for people like me, who are at odds with western imperialism, to be able to use Chinese software. i’d like to think that if i use wechat, i dont have to worry about the cia kicking my door down

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