China’s largest tech corporations are rushing to penetrate an industry that’s historically not tech-savvy – brick-and-mortar retail. Dalian Wanda Group, a conglomerate best known for its chain of movie theaters , has launched a US$814 joint ecommerce venture with Baidu and Tencent for the purpose of accelerating the three firms’ reach for in-store mobile payments. Tencent and Baidu have confirmed news of the venture with Tech in Asia.
Tencent today announced a suite of new features for businesses to better engage customers through their public WeChat accounts, according to TechNode . One day earlier, Alibaba’s mobile Alipay Wallet released over 60 new APIs for third party developers to build online storefronts, according to the company’s official English-language blog .
A full year after WeChat rolled out its social gaming platform, the popular messaging app finally has a foreign-made game in its portfolio. Over the weekend, the hotly anticipated WeChat edition of Candy Crush Saga rolled out on Android. An iOS version will likely arrive soon. The WeChat edition Candy Crush Saga can be tied either to the messaging app or to QQ, the IM service that’s also run by Tencent (HKG:0700). At the moment, Candy Crush Saga for WeChat is only available via Tencent’s AppGem app store, and can only be used by those with a special invitation code.
WeChat isn’t just used by friends for messaging – in China it’s also used by more than two million bloggers, celebrities, media outlets, small companies, and major brands to reach out to people. Trouble is, WeChat has a huge problem with fake brand accounts. While the best way for a WeChat user to add a brand’s official account is via a QR code – which are plastered over nearly every major store in China – there are still many cases in which a user might search within the app for a certain brand account. That’s when the user will find it’s a disaster zone.
WeChat, China’s top social network and messaging app today launched the open beta of its advertising platform for official accounts, according to QQ Tech. As we reported earlier when Tencent first started testing the ad service, these WeChat ‘subscription’ accounts are used by brands, small businesses, media, and celebrities to send updates in the form of chat messages. Users can click through these messages to read full posts where the ads appear.
Chinese web giant Tencent (HKG:0700) – now best known as being the maker of WeChat – announced today that it’s paying US$736 million for a 19.9 percent stake in 58.com (NYSE:WUBA), which is China’s answer to Craigslist. 58.com, which has 130 million monthly unique users, IPO’d last October. Tencent revealed today that 58.com’s listings will be integrated in some way with WeChat, the popular messaging app, as well as with Tencent’s QQ IM.
App distribution in most countries remains pretty straightforward: the App Store for iOS, and Google Play for Android. In China, however, where users face difficulty accessing Google services due to government-imposed restrictions, app distribution is a circus, with tons of third-party stores competing for market share. But with big and small tech firms fighting to become the biggest and baddest app broker, one firm sits at the top: Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU).
Tencent Cloud will officially launch its Hong Kong data center by the end of this week, marking the start of the Chinese Internet giant’s globalization strategy in the cloud computing sector. Tencent Cloud’s Hong Kong data center will reportedly focus on the Asia Pacific, Europe and American regions, providing comprehensive cloud computing services to those marketplaces. With Hong Kong’s outstanding network hardware environment, Tencent Cloud’s new data center will use an international BGP line, which is currently the fastest network line in the world. It has direct connections to America via a submarine cable, which will ensure the fast connections to Tencent Cloud’s host.
Global software giant Microsoft Corp claimed its artificial intelligence chatting robot, Xiaobing, has been blocked by WeChat without prior notice, a move described by the American company as a “brutal murder”. The shutdown of Xiaobing accounts came just six days after Microsoft announced that it had reached an exclusive partnership agreement with WeChat for the Siri-like service that allowed WeChat users access to a social assistant.
Just two days after going live, the WeChat-integrated robot made by Microsoft Asia’s Internet Engineering Academy has been blocked by Tencent. The conversational AI project dubbed Xiaobing functioned as an official account that could be invited to chat with both individuals and groups.
Confessional app Whisper has revealed $36 million in new funding, as first reported by Recode. The new funding was led by Shasta Ventures, along with participation from Chinese web giant Tencent and several others. Recode quotes a source as saying that Tencent might add another $15 million to the round later.
Chinese web giant Tencent (HKG:0700) had a blockbuster Q1, according to its new financial report today. Aside from hitting 396 million monthly active users on WeChat, Tencent managed to pull in revenues of RMB 18.4 billion (US$2.95 billion), which is up eight percent over Q4 2013 and up 36 percent from the same time a year ago. Tencent acknowledged that WeChat and its social gaming platform gave a big boost to the company’s important gaming revenues.
Tencent has just revealed its Q1 2014 financials. Before we look at those, it’s worth focusing on WeChat, its hit messaging app. WeChat has now grown to 396 million monthly active users. That’s up from 355 million at the end of 2013, and has more than doubled from 195 million exactly a year ago. Here’s our updated chart:
Gigabyte Technology on May 12 unveiled new G1-series gaming motherboards equipped with Intel 9-series chipsets (Z97, H97, etc.) in Beijing, northern China, through cooperation with Tencent Games, the online gaming platform of China-based Web service provider Tencent, to tap the China market, according to Gigabyte.
Bitcoin in China has suffered another blow today as three major institutions have effectively banned transactions involving the virtual currency through their services. China Construction Bank and Bank of China, two of the country’s “big four” banks, along with Tencent’s Tenpay, a well-known online payment system, have each issued public statements announcing they will prohibit its account holders from engaging in Bitcoin-related activity (hat-tip The Next Web).
Fasten your seatbelts and get out your toothbrushes, because an avalanche of hard candy is about to hit China. The Wall Street Journal just reported that Candy Crush Saga, the mega-hit mobile game made by London-based King Digital Entertainment, will be integrated into Tencent’s wildly popular WeChat messaging app. Tencent tells Tech In Asia that the localized game will be released this summer.
While its online finance, e-commerce and mobile messaging initiatives are closely watched by investors, Tencent has kept its focus on making large bets in its interactive games business to bolster revenue growth. The strategy has allowed Tencent, Asia’s largest listed internet company, to build up its pipeline of games and become the biggest company by revenue in the highly competitive, US$70.4 billion global games market. For Tencent, “games are still the crown jewels”, CCB International analysts Ronnie Ho and Qu Ke said in a research note.