Chinese tech giant Alibaba introduced Dingtalk Lite, the global version of its popular productivity app Dingtalk, to multiple app stores across key Asian markets on Wednesday.

Why it matters: China has witnessed a recent work collaboration boom driven by millions stuck at home during the Covid-19 outbreak. Local tech giants, increasingly shifting to enterprise-facing services, are setting their sights at the global market as the pandemic is spreading across the world.

  • Dingtalk’s global version comes only two weeks after rival Tencent launched an international version of its video conferencing app Tencent Meeting. Bytedance is also running Lark, a global version of the enterprise messaging tool Feishu.
  • Emerging tech firms like Pinduoduo are reportedly catching up in the area.
  • China’s business productivity platforms like Dingtalk, WeChat Work, and Feishu recorded traffic spikes during the coronavirus outbreak while hundreds of millions work from home. 
  • Despite the traffic boost driven by the coronavirus, global rival Zoom hasn’t been able to regain momentum in China after it was temporarily blocked in September.

“With rising demands on remote working and distance learning due to the coronavirus outbreak, we hope to leverage our leading technology to support businesses and schools to maintain operation as much as possible.”

DingTalk CTO Hugo Zhu in an emailed statement

Details: Dingtalk Lite is tailored for users in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. The app’s interface is available in Japanese, English, and Traditional Chinese.

  • Lite comes with necessary features such as messaging, file sharing, and video conferencing.
  • Most notably, Dingtalk Lite lacks the admin features most China-based users hate.
  • The app supports video-conferencing for over 300 people simultaneously and a live-broadcast function for more than 1000 participants.
  • The app offers AI-enabled translation of messages in 14 languages including Chinese, Japanese, English.
  • It’s compatible with multiple operating systems including iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.
  • Zhu added that video-conferencing for businesses and live broadcast for online classes have seen the strongest demand in Asia, due to an increasing number of cities implementing different levels of lockdowns and self-isolation.  

Context: Dingtalk claims more than 10 million enterprise users and more than 120 million student users across China.

  • Despite the recent rise, Dingtalk faces backlash from users, especially students, for arguable user experinces.
  • Chinese productivity apps including Dingtalk, WeChat Work, and Lark were recommended by UNESCO as the platforms that can facilitate distance learning during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.