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Chinese Web giant Tencent faces obstacles in its goal to expand in global IM market

Jia Lynn Yang, The Washington Post/ SMH | July 8, 2013
Tencent's WeChat expands globally but may encounter trouble in some markets because of its Chinese origins.

Companies can also set up WeChat profiles to connect to customers. Have a question about a computer that needs to be fixed? Send the manufacturer your exact location via your smartphone, and an employee will tell you the nearest place to get your device repaired.

Tencent is already a $US7 billion company, with revenue up more than 50 per cent last year. Pony Ma, Tencent's chief executive, has said he wants his company to go global.

"Successful or not, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Tencent," Ma told CBN, a Chinese financial news network.

WeChat, whose rivals include the United States-based WhatsApp and Japanese Line messaging services, has been able to charge into new countries by using advertising that features local celebrities, including Bollywood actors and soccer players.

By doing this, Tencent is showing a level of savviness about how online services must often cater to local tastes and cultural norms. If Ma succeeds, it would be a breakthrough for Chinese tech firms.

"The Chinese market is both a curse and a blessing," said Lee Kai-Fu, a longtime tech entrepreneur in China. "It's a blessing because it's big, but it's a curse because the marginal cost of doing something more outside China isn't that attractive."

 

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