Now, QQ and WeChat are the two commonly used chat and social applications in China, and they are also very famous in the world. Both of these applications are developed by Tencent, and Tencent is what I want to discuss and research. It started as a social media company focusing on social and communication services. Tencent is the first company to bring portable, Internet-based chat to the lives of Chinese people. This portable chat tool is QQ. Tencent’s QQ chat tool is the main social platform for young Chinese people (KeJia Wu, 2017). Before smart phones became popular, people could use computers for real-time chat, and people began to feel the existence of the Internet and it was widely used. Later, Tencent launched WeChat to expand its functions. WeChat is not just a social application for young people. After the emergence of WeChat Pay, it has further expanded its social influence. For example, WeChat Pay is now so convenient that people can use their mobile phones to pay when they take the subway. As mentioned in an article published by Networld Media Group, online payment has completely changed people’s lives and payment fields, and even it is changing the world. Therefore, Tencent has greatly promoted China’s social and economic development, and gradually changed people’s understanding of the Internet.
Historical development and Influence of Tencent
Tencent started as a social media platform and now has developed into a comprehensive Internet company. Nowadays, it covers social networking, communication services, games, news and online video services. Wei Wang (2009) point out that the development path of QQ also represented Tencent company. Because Tencent’s first and most mainstream product line is QQ and later extension products.
Tencent has the advantage of first mover, which is also the basis of monopoly power. As in its early days, QQ was a personal computer system operating network tool. It has high user viscosity, many extensible functions. Moreover, compared with portal websites, the development cost of chat tools is relatively low and the return on investment is relatively high. In this way, Tencent has a lot of money to develop a series of extended products and network services, gradually developed. Starting with the chatting tool QQ, Tencent has also developed QQ mailbox, QQ games and office software, which have changed the inherent lifestyle of Chinese people step by step and made life more interesting. For example, QQ space(Q-zone) has gradually replaced blogs, QQ mailbox is now one of the most commonly used email of the younger generation, and QQ has realized online teaching during the COVID-19 in China. In brief, Tencent is gradually making a transformative impact on people’s lives in China.
Tencent was founded by Ma HuaTeng and the other four founders, the current chairman and CEO of Tencent is Ma HuaTeng. Actually, Tencent did not understand the business model when it developed QQ. HuaTeng realized that connecting everything is what people care about and need most, and the tool to connect is the mobile Internet. Hence, Tencent began to focus on purely mobile social tools, and subsequently developed WeChat. WeChat is not only an instant messaging tool, but also can connect business, services. And it has become a new way of social networking. Thus, Tencent believes that it can always find the right business model as long as it wins users’ affection. Now WeChat is also very successful and people all over the world know it. Its success also reflects Tencent’s business model has been successfully transformed (ShaoYang Yu,2016).
Cooperation and Competition Of Tencent
1. Who are the Internet partners？
Tripti L. & John D. (2019) discussed that the Chinese technology giants have always been Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, or BAT for short. They dominate in search, e-commerce and social media. But now Baidu’s position has gradually declined, and Alibaba and Tencent still maintain near-monopoly Internet positions. Furthermore, Tencent has always valued its partners in particular.
As Xinhua net reported in 2018, Tencent held a global partner conference. Intel, Luckin Coffee, some media companies and newspapers were also present. At the meeting, Tang Daosheng, senior executive vice president of Tencent, mentioned that their common goal is not only to make the Internet convenient for people’s lives, but also to have transformative impacts.
2. Multi-field Competitions
Moreover, Tencent has many competitors, such as Alibaba, Netease and Facebook. Among them, Facebook is one of the relatively strong competitors. In terms of real-time games, XinXi (2017) argued the two social technology giants were the first to value and develop them, and they naturally became competitors. Tencent attaches great importance to entertainment and social relationships in games, while Facebook aims to achieve breakthroughs and generate new revenue. The two companies have different concepts and strategies in overall product development. Equally, from the aspect of game development, the public can understand why the chat applications of the two companies are also different. Although they have chosen different approaches, they have jointly promoted the new development and trend of the Internet industry.
3. Who are using and controlling Tencent?
Tencent has been an Internet company that independently develops products and services. After QQ, it also developed diversified products such as WeChat, WeChat payment, Tencent news and Tencent video. One of the reasons for the development of WeChat at that time was to target white-collar users, which was a different user orientation from QQ. Tencent’s purpose is to cover users of different age groups, regions and preferences, and connect them together. Eventually, it achieves the purpose of increasing users’ dependence on Tencent’s various products and using them all the time. So, such a comprehensive company that independently develops products and expands in different fields must have its own internal management and control system to regulate (Tencent, 2020).
Figure showing Tencent’s Internet Ecosystem
Created by: Churong Gao
Zhongwei, L. (2015) suggested that current Internet companies are appearing in people’s vision in the form of continuous innovation, and use different methods to meet people’s needs. Hence, these innovative methods will change the structure of the industry and expand the boundaries of the industry. These innovations are still successful, because with the popularity of these mobile devices such as smart phones, and the widespread application of cloud computing and big data, the Internet industry is shifting from PCs to mobile Internet. This also proves that the user’s choice has been affected and gradually depends on the mobile Internet. In the development of mobile social platforms, Tencent WeChat quickly became the main mobile social application. It covers services such as language calls, video calls, Moments sharing and geographic information sharing. WeChat has developed from a single social network application to a comprehensive platform in multiple fields, meeting the diverse needs of users as much as possible. Specifically, WeChat was the first voice call function launched in China at that time, which brought a large number of users and was well received by people. Although voice calls are not unique to WeChat, it has undergone a lot of innovations and improvements. For example, by default, the call is in the speaker mode, and when it is close to the ear, it automatically switches to the handset mode, which is very user-friendly and considerate to the user. Through this function, Tencent once again provided people with new ways of communication, changed people’s social and life patterns, and deepened people’s understanding and application of the mobile Internet.
Tencent is the earliest Chinese Internet company focusing on social communication. In culture, it has created influence not just in mobile chat but also in digital games (Tang, M., 2020). Tencent provides more than 50 kinds of games on the QQ game platform, becoming the largest game platform in the world. More importantly, people can buy their favorite characters or equipment from the game platform for decoration. Later, Tencent continued to develop games in this industry, including PUBG Mobile and instant games mentioned above. Louise (2019) mentioned that Beijing had been helping Alibaba, Tencent and other Chinese Internet companies before, but changed their minds in 2017. They argued that the popular, even addictive, listless and near-sighted games should be controlled effectively rather than used endlessly. Mario McKellop (2019) argued that the Ministry of Education of China punished Tencent for being too good and making realistic games in 2018.
Relevant regulatory agencies also require that children use the game time. Although people enjoy the fun of innovative products and the diversification of life, there are also many omissions on regulatory issues. For example, a soldier may have to quit the game midway because of an emergency mission, but his mind is still immersed in the game, causing errors in concentration and errors (Louise Lucas, 2019). These innovative Internet social technologies diversify people’s lives, save time and cost. But meanwhile, these emerging technologies take up people’s energy and time and people may become addicted to these applications and reduce efficiency.
Image showing vivid game picture of PUBG Mobile,
When people first started to have awareness and concepts about the traditional Internet, people logged into QQ from a computer and could communicate with other people remotely in real time, instead of leaving messages. With the rise of the mobile Internet, the mobile version of mobile QQ has become the most frequently used social and communication application. In recent years, WeChat, its voice call function has once again changed the way people communicate. People have begun to realize that they can use the Internet to make calls. After that, WeChat Pay appeared, which can be said to be a feature that is ahead of the world and completely convenient for people’s lives. People can solve almost all problems with just a mobile phone when they go out.
Images fromYouTube, all rights reserved.
Therefore, these performances are sufficient to show that Tencent has participated in and contributed to the traditional Internet and mobile Internet reforms. Through the emergence of these new features, people’s impression of the Internet has been completely changed. Tencent’s applications have had an impact on life, entertainment, culture and other aspects. It facilitates people’s lives step by step, simplifies the cumbersome life of people, and also promotes the entire era.
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- Mario McKellop. (2019). Tencent posts strong Q1 2019 results despite Chinese ban. Retrieved May 20, 2019 from https://www.theburnin.com/market-watch/tencent-earnings-q1-2019/
- Louise Lucas. (2019). Tencent’s losing game with Chinese regulators. Retrieved June 18, 2019 from https://www.ft.com/content/8ac2b862-789d-11e9-b0ec-7dff87b9a4a2
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