WeChat still holds a leading position in Chinese IM industry this year, but several emerging rivals are poised to attract users and snap up market share.
Alibaba promotes Laiwang aggressively both internally and externally with a wild wish of 30% of the market. NetEase and China Telecom partnered up to launch EasyChat, which supports calls with both landline and mobile lines, a feature missed in WeChat.
The users of IM tools recorded metric growth this year led by WeChat which now registered more than 600 million users, with more than 100 million overseas and 271.9 million monthly active users in Q3 2013.
Location-based social app Momo has registered 80 million users and 13 million daily active users after two years and three months of development.
EasyChat announced more than 30 million registered users (source in Chinese).
Alibaba’s Laiwang recorded 10 million users as of November with daily active users surged 500% MOM (source in Chinese).
In addition to the abovementioned mainstream IM tools, Shanda developed one named Youni. Sina injected funding in WeMeet, a similar app headed by former Sina Weibo lead. Online retailor JD released IM tool Dongdong for individual customers.
Cooperation with Telecos
With the booming demands for data service, free data will be an effective selling point to attract users. Major players of the industry competed to offer free data service via cooperation with telecom carriers.
On the other hand, telecom carriers are willing to take part in such cooperation, because they want to integrate various contents into their business and provide corresponding preferential programs, which enable them to share revenues with OTT services.
WeChat partnered up with Guangdong Branch of China Unicom this July to release WeChat Wo SIM card, which features low-budget data plan.
Veteran tech company NetEase joined the competition with EasyChat, partnering with carrier China Telecom, and offer services other players otherwise cannot do without backing from a carrier.
EasyChat and Laiwang launched free data plan to compete head-on with the WeChat.
WeChat hopped on the mobile gaming bandwagon by launching a number of WeChat-based mobile games, such as Rhythm Master, Aircraft Fight, Link Link, WeRunner. Momo followed the suit to release an elimination game The Puzzle with South Korean gaming company Com2uS.