Software developer takes aim at online chatter

09:22, October 15, 2010      

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With China's online-chatting services dominated by platforms like QQ, MSN and Fetion, software developer Kingsoft Corp is looking to take a bite out of the market with its new Iciba instant messaging offering.

Analysts say the venture does not pose a serious challenge to the market leaders.

Kingsoft's translation tool Iciba, which was launched earlier this week, includes a Chinese-online-chatting service that aims to rival instant messaging tools like Tencent's QQ, China Mobile's Fetion and Microsoft's MSN.

Instant messaging or online chatting is a real-time text-based networked communication system.

The new version of Iciba offers services such as a personal space for photos or blog entries, an e-mail box and visual pets similar to Tencent's instant messaging service platform, which started operation in early 1999 and now is the largest player in the market.

This is not for the first time Kingsoft tried to foray into the instant messaging market. It previously launched an instant messaging tool in 2005, but failed to take off. Kingsoft officials were not available for comments Thursday.

Attempts by the Hong Kong-listed software firm, as well as some smaller rivals, to enter the country's growing instant messaging market, however, will not faze industry heavyweights, market watchers said.

In addition, no big changes are on the horizon in the foreseeable future, as large players have established their brands and market positions over the years and users are hooked, said Dong Xu, an analyst with Analysys International.

In the second quarter, active instant messaging accounts - those individuals that logged on at least once a month - rose 44 percent from a year ago to 810 million in China, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. QQ's active accounts represent 77.2 percent of that number, while MSN and China Mobile's Fetion together made up nearly 10 percent, according to Analysys International.

The three instant messaging platforms control a whopping 96.4 percent share in the mobile instant messaging market, according to Analysys.

While agreeing that there is little hope for Kingsoft of challenging positions of major instant messaging tools, Cao Yujie, a senior analyst at CCW Research, a Beijing-based technology research firm, said these new alternative tools still have a niche market for specific users.

Source: Global Times


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