Chinese social giant Tencent is reportedly building a cloud-based messaging service for instant voice messaging Weixin.
Chinese tech blog 36kr, reports the new product — called Weiyun (meaning micro-cloud) — will allow people to view their Weixin messages not only from their mobile, but also via web and desktop clients.
According to TechRice, an English-language blog covering the Chinese tech scene, “Weixin was likely a clone of Talkbox, an instant voice messaging startup from Hong Kong.”
TechRice reckons that Weiyun “would turn Weixin into a universally accessible messenger, similar to another famous Chinese product: QQ instant messenger, also by Tencent”.
So why would one company need two very similar products with overlapping functionality?
According to Tech Rice, the answer lies with China’s complex online class hierarchy. “With Weixin, Tencent finally has a product for white-collars (50 million registered, 20 million actives), an objective that had eluded the firm for over a decade,” it says.
Simon Fong, CEO of Xeiqiu,a social platform of value for investors, reckons:
Tencent’s problem is that it’s very difficult for it to reach the highest-end users at all. At the very least, in some situations it’s embarrassing to share your QQ number (whether a user has one is besides the point, this is about social conventions). But now Tencent has a new product that is finally penetrating that market: Weixin Mobile IM.
According to TechRice, with its 700-million plus registered users, QQ is for no-collars, blue-collars, and white-collars, while Weixin is for white-collar elites.
While Weixin initially piggybacked off the QQ network — when it launched the only way to get onto Weixin was with a QQ log in — Tencent now appears to be leveraging it as a separate entity, built around the concept of a “Weixin Lifestyle”.
TechRice reports that a number of Chinese techies believe that “Weixin has a great shot of succeeding internationally” and that the service is “already a wildly popular way for young Chinese to keep in touch with their significant other when he/she goes to study abroad”.
Once Weiyun gives Weixun cross-platform functionality, it will only give it an increased chance of success.