Before Momo, it was believed no one would become a real threat to Tencent in China’s social market in the near future. Momo started being referred to as a social app for strangers, Tang Yan, founder and CEO of the company, would later say that they wanted eventually to be Tencent’s QQ IM on mobile. A widely accepted story about QQ IM is that it allows users to send messages to strangers — The recipient can block the user though. — helped it gain traction in the early days.

It is believed that it’s hard to monetize a social service for strangers as users as the label itself doesn’t encourage users to stay. To become the QQ for mobile, Momo would launch groups and other features to keep keep users around. Also like QQ, Momo rolled out virtual goods — emoticons, slightly different from virtual avatars QQ began with — and games to monetize the user base.

Last year Momo announced 100 million users and claimed it broke even through gaming, and reportedly is planning for an IPO in the U.S. Thanks to the encouraging story by Momo, we saw a new wave of social apps emerging in China and almost everyone willingly labels its product as for “strangers”. Different from QQ IM or Momo, some of the new take advantage of new technologies or create new ways for social interaction.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com