Tencent is a company you probably haven’t heard of, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Over 700 million people use their instant messaging client QQ. According to DigiTimes, last week the company launched a service called “WeChat” in Taiwan. What exactly is WeChat? It’s another OTT (over the top) messaging platform, similar to how WhatsApp and Viber work. Basically, why pay an operator to send an SMS when you can send that same message over a data connection? Tencent says that their goal is to have their WeChat application installed on 50% of Taiwanese smartphones, though they don’t exactly say when they want that to happen.
Which platforms support WeChat? Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and even Symbian users can enjoy WeChat, but then again why would they install Tencent’s messaging app instead of something more established like WhatsApp? According to Tencent, they already have over 200 million WeChat users. We wish we could compare that to the other players, but WhatsApp doesn’t disclose their numbers.
Now we know what you’re thinking: All Android phones ship with Google Talk, so why aren’t more people using that? Two reasons immediately come to mind. First, there’s simply no cross platform support. Yes, there are plenty of third party IM clients that support Google Talk, but most people aren’t savvy enough to figure out how to configure an IM client. Two, Google Talk requires that you give people your email address. With WhatsApp or Viber, the app is smart enough to tell you that your friends are using the app simply by checking to see if you already have their phone number.
Can Google make the next WhatsApp/Viber/WeChat/ChatON? Of course they can, but how eager would an operator be to sell Android phones with that application preinstalled? The answer is not very.
We’re curious, do you use an OTT messaging client? If so, which one?