This geek has been trying out QQ, the communication tool from Tencent that is even more ubiquitous than email in China, to keep in touch with some of my friends there. QQ was even installed as the standard operating desktop in the all-in-one PC that replaced my hotel room’s TV in Shen Zhen. Check out the recent splash screen:
In many ways, this geek feels that QQ was a leading leading forerunner in the social networking space compared to even Facebook. For example, they popularized the concept of virtual currencies way earlier, monetizing using social games as early as mid 2000 (probably even earlier), with revenues (USD140.8 million) way higher than Facebook for a long time. Well, at least they publish their revenues, unlike Facebook who doesn’t. So since Facebook doesn’t publish their revenues, this geek is just going to assume that Tencent is still making more money than Facebook unless Facebook proves me wrong
From just an IM communication tool, they’ve become a huge social network with over 220 million active users and over 641 million registered users with features like instant messaging (IM), mail, a social network capability – Q zone, multiplayer gaming capability with QQ games, a web portal QQ.com, C2C shopping, and virtual products such as QQ Show, QQ Pet, QQ Game, and QQ Music/Radio/Live all of which you can purchase with their virtual currency Q-Coin.
But this splash screen just goes to show how huge Facebook has become, with Tencent using it to engage their international audience, even though Facebook is banned in China. Or maybe it shows how circumspect Tencent is in using a competitor service like Facebook to reach out to its international users, something which cannot often be said of other businesses. I for one can’t imagine Alex St. John of hi5 using Facebook to promote its service.
For those of you who wants to try it out and don’t know a word of mandarin, there’s an international version which you can install with a full english interface.