Tech in Asia — When Tencent first launched WeChat back in January, 2011, nobody predicted that the bare-bones, mobile-only messenger was just five years away from being an ecommerce and social media juggernaut with well over half a billion users. The last half decade saw China’s former social media giants get used to living in WeChat’s shade.
IT News — Facebook has bolstered the default encryption settings for more than one billion users of its popular WhatsApp messaging service so that all messages will now be accessible only to the sender and recipient. The update arrives amid a heightened international debate over how much access law enforcement should have to digital communications and follows a high-profile showdown between Apple and the FBI over an iPhone linked to one of the San Bernardino shooters.
Tech in Asia — Messaging app Line said yesterday it will launch a prepaid card – called Line Pay Card – for shoppers. The announcement was made by director Jun Masuda onstage at the Japan-based company’s Line Conference Tokyo 2016 event. The Line Pay Card, made for Line’s 68 million Japanese users, is launched in partnership with credit card company JCB.
China Tech News — Chinese instant messaging cloud service provider RongCloud has completed its first round financing of CNY50 million, which was led by ZEVC Management Co. Ltd. Han Ying, chief executive officer of RongCloud, revealed that in the future the company will provide communications cloud services in nine sectors, including social, lifestyle services, games, e-commerce, videos, education, health, finance, and office collaboration.
Nikkei — HONG KONG — China’s Tencent Holdings is poised to spin its hit chat application into a unique digital economic sphere, leveraging its massive user base to take over the domestic market for premium smartphone-based services. The social networking giant’s WeChat smartphone app boasted nearly 700 million users at the end of 2015 — more than half of the national population.
Times of India — Telecom Regulatory Authourity of India is reportedly planning to issue a fresh paper on WhatsApp and Skype. According to a report in business daily Business Standard (BS), “Trai is contemplating issuing a fresh consultation paper for regulation of over-the-top (OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype in accordance with recently announced net neutrality principles.”
Tech in Asia — Tencent, the company behind China’s wildly popular messenger/digital wallet/everything app WeChat, is planning to launch a new messenger aimed at office workers – and Slack had better watch out. The company hasn’t yet pegged a definite release date for Enterprise WeChat (企业微信), as it will be called, but there are a few things we know for sure.
Times of India — NEW DELHI: The instant messaging app Line has rolled out a group calling feature for its Android and iOS users. The new feature enables users to voice call more than one person at a time within the groups or multiple person chats. The company states that the group calling feature supports up to 200 users.
Tech in Asia — Rumors of an IPO for Line have been rumbling on for nearly three years. What was once thought to be a US$10 billion IPO could turn out to be a US$3 billion listing, according to a report today from Reuters affiliate IFR. Citing people close to the deal, the article says Line Corp, the Japan-based company behind the messaging app, plans an IPO of up to US$3 billion in New York and Tokyo that is expected to happen before the end of the summer.
China Tech News — Chinese mobile phone users sent out a total of 699.2 billion short messages in 2015, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China. MIIT’s satistics also showed that the year of 2012 was the peak for short messages in China. Since then, the number of short messages sent out continued to decrease year by year despite the fact that the number of Chinese mobile phone users kept growing.
Tech in Asia — There’s no doubt that WeChat is the cutting edge when it comes to media in China. But the company is working on rolling out a new feature that sounds decidedly-old school: allowing writers to charge for access to articles. Reports in the Chinese press have suggested that this feature is already on WeChat for beta testing. Tencent representatives say that’s not true, but in their response to TechWeb, they confirm that paid reading is coming sometime soon.
Korea Times — Line, the popular messaging app launched in the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, has delayed its plan for its initial public offering (IPO) until the second half of this year, according to market analysts and officials, Monday. “The plan by Naver to have an IPO for Line will be delayed until the second half of this year due to market uncertainty and the mediocre business growth of Line,” said Ahn Ji-maan, an analyst at NH Securities in a note to clients.
Marketing-Interactive — Pie, a Singapore-based business messaging start-up, has been acquired by internet giants Google. Caesar Sengupta, vice president, Next Billion Users Team at Google confirmed the acquisition on Google’s Asia Pacific blog and said it is looking to hire more engineers. He added that this is part of Google building a new engineering team in Singapore – to get closer to the next billion users coming online from emerging markets.
Times of India — Noida: A WhatsApp group, Women Safety-Noida Police, was created by the Noida police for women’s safety on Tuesday. The City superintendent of police, Dinesh Yadav, made an appeal to women to share a message on WhatsApp (mobile No. 8800199921) on whatever problem – related to safety or any other inconvenience – they face while commuting to work in Noida.
Tech in Asia — We’ve written quite a bit about the wide variety of features crammed within WeChat, the hugely popular Chinese messaging app created by Tencent. It can do everything from hail a taxi to buy a cup of coffee. But you still need other apps too, right?
Tech in Asia — We’re ringing in 2016 in under 10 days, but Hike’s not quite finished with 2015 yet. After a slew of growth announcements this year, including new features and hints that it might be making a move to become more of a WeChat-like multi-purpose messaging app, Hike has managed to squeeze in another news item to its list. Today, India’s homegrown instant messenger announced the launch of its app in eight Indian vernacular languages.
Times of India — NEW DELHI: Hike messenger, India’s first home-grown messaging platform, is launching its app in eight vernacular languages. The app will be launched on Wednesday with improved user interface, keyboard, predictive texts and stickers in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu, the company said in a statement.
Times of India — DHAKA: Bangladesh on Thursday lifted a ban on Facebook, three weeks after it was imposed for security reasons in the tense country, but mobile messaging apps remained barred, the telecoms minister said. The government ordered Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber blocked last month after two opposition leaders lost their appeals against the death penalty for war crimes committed during the 1971 independence conflict.
Times of India — NEW DELHI: Sony has finally addressed the woes of its PlayStation users and rescued them from the clunky messaging service that was contained inside its PlayStation app and launched a separate messaging app. This provides dramatic improvement in the messaging service and PlayStation users can now connect to their PSN friends.
Tech in Asia — Thomas Lembong, the newly-appointed Indonesian trade minister, is a gadget head. He uses WhatsApp and loves his iPhone. But there’s a hidden dimension to this. “I shared with the team at [WhatsApp owner] Facebook that I run my ministry on WhatsApp,” says Lembong, who spoke on stage at Tech in Asia Jakarta 2015. He recently made a trip to Silicon Valley to pitch Indonesia to big tech companies.
Times of India — NEW DELHI: Facebook remains the most popular social networking site in India, while WhatsApp tops the list of instant messaging (IM) apps, according to report by global research consultancy firm TNS. As per the findings of ‘Connected Life’ — a global study of the digital attitudes and behaviours of 60,500 internet users across 50 countries, 55% are on instant messaging every day.
Tech In Asia — Whether it is because of its exceptional entrepreneurship, state support for innovation, or just the sheer giant population base, China undoubtedly has the world’s largest number of internet users and fastest growing ecommerce markets. We’ve seen a number of successful start-ups and other business stories on Chinese internet within China, but what about foreign small business owners or investors who want to squeeze into China’s huge online market? How can social media help them achieve this goal?
Want China Times — Qatar-based telecom operator Ooredoo Myanmar has offered free data services for the WeChat Myanmar app under a partnership program between the two communication apps, an official report said Tuesday. Under a joint promotion program launched in Yangon by Ooredoo Myanmar and WeChat Myanmar, Ooredoo will waive data usage fee for the instant messaging app starting Monday.
Tech In Asia — This post is all about WeChat, but it’s also about more than just WeChat. While seemingly just a messaging app, WeChat is actually more of a portal, a platform, and even a mobile operating system depending on how you look at it. Much has been written about WeChat in the context of messaging app trends, but few outside of China really understand how it works — and how it can pull off what for many companies (and countries) is still a far-off vision of a world managed entirely through our smartphones.
Business Times — SAN FRANCISCO: Canada-based smartphone messaging application Kik said on Tuesday it raised US$50 million from Chinese Internet giant Tencent, saying the two firms have a “shared vision.” The funding vaults the firm launched by University of Waterloo students into the so-called “unicorn” club of startups with valuations over US$1 billion, according to a Kik statement.
Tech in Asia — For his interview today at Rise Conference in Hong Kong, Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa talked via an interpreter, but he used English to ask one critical question to the audience – how many of you are using Line? A sea of hands shot up, a loyal bunch of the firm’s 211 million monthly active users. Idezawa, the newly installed CEO of the Japanese messaging juggernaut, was on stage to highlight his company’s growing reach beyond Asia.
The partial block of the Line and Kakao Talk mobile messengers in China since July 1 of last year is showing signs of extension, while Chinese game studios are taking advantage of the local regulation that forces Korean game developers wishing to do business in China to pass through their studios. According to industry sources, the Chinese government is continuing to block access to global Internet services.
SINGAPORE-based mobile messaging appliance gateway company TalariaX said it has formed a partnership with NTT Advanced Technology Corporation (NTT-AT) to bring its solutions to the Japanese market. Set up in 2001, TalariaX’s flagship is its proprietary sendQuick Short Message Service (SMS) appliance gateway solutions. It claims more than 1,500 applications enterprise customers in over 15 countries. Japan marks its 12th Asian market, the company said in a statement. NTT-AT was established in 1976 as the technological core of Japan’s NTT Group.
Chinese internet giant Tencent’s subsidiary in Taiwan will face screening by the country’s Investment Commission on whether its current operating business meets the range of previous approval, and could be ordered to divest if it violates the rules, our sister paper Want Daily reports. The commission said on June 8 that Tencent’s subsidiary applied as a mainland Chinese investor but the application did not cover its WeChat messaging business. If it is engaged in commercial activities in an area for which it had not applied, it could face a penalty or even required to leave Taiwan.
TENCENT Holdings Ltd said its WeChat messaging app has reached 549 million monthly active users globally, up from the 500-million user milestone achieved three months ago in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2014. In Malaysia, it claims a 95% smartphone penetration rate. Citing research released by GlobalWebIndex (GWI), it said the active user base in Malaysia has grown by 1,187% from Q1 2013 to Q3 2014.