Tencent marks Malaysian debut with WeChat – Tech News
KUALA LUMPUR: China-based Internet service portal Tencent marked its entry into the Malaysian market with the introduction of its WeChat mobile messaging platform.
Assistant general manager of Tencent’s international business group, Norman Tam, said WeChat is the first product the company intends to market aggressively in South-East Asia.
“We see this particular product as having the highest potential among international users,” he said at the launch in downtown Kuala Lumpur recently.
The application was initially launched as Weixin in China in January last year, with international language support introduced in October that same year.
It currently supports English, traditional and simplified Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Thai, and Vietnamese.
It was re-branded as WeChat in April and according to Tam, as of March, it has more than 100 million registered users.
Malaysia is in the first group of countries in the region that the platform has been launched in, with prior releases in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Singapore.
Tam said a Bahasa Malaysia version of the app is being developed and will be launched soon.
“We are committed to the Malaysian market and going forward you will see more social elements being introduced in WeChat, with more localised content and functions to help develop the local community,” he said.
The company also intends to strengthen its mobile chat offering by promoting it as a viable open-source platform for application and content developers.
It just released its application programming interfaces (API) in Mandarin, with an English language version due out soon.
“There is no structured business model yet for developers because we are focused on first building the user base, experience and eco-system.
“We view WeChat as a long-term project, especially since platforms have a longer gestation period,” Tam said.
He declined to disclose specific numbers but said that for the last two weeks, WeChat held the No 1 position under the social networking category in the Malaysian Apple iTunes Store.
On what the unique value proposition for users is when stacked up against similar offerings already out in the market, Tam said a focus on features that encourage social sharing is one key differentiator.
“Another is our commitment to continuously improve the platform. We release a new version of the app more frequently than there is for competing products, averaging one every two months,” he said.
Tam said the company’s experience in developing and serving users on QQ, Tencent’s free instant messaging program with 711.7 million active users, over the past 12 years has yielded valuable lessons that will be applied to its strategy for WeChat.
The WeChat mobile platform offers messaging, photo and video sharing, location sharing, and contact information exchange.
It also supports social networking via shared streaming content feeds and location-based social plug-ins for users to connect with local and international WeChat users.
For more information, go to www.wechatapp.com. – GABEY GOH
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