BEIJING, Feb. 2 -- The number of messages sent through WeChat, a mobile communication application, doubled on Thursday, the eve of the Spring Festival, when Chinese sent wishes for the new lunar year.
In the peak minute, the number of messages carrying best wishes for the "Year of the Horse" in the Chinese Zodiac, surged to 10 million, according to data released on Sunday by Tencent, developer of WeChat.
Chinese people used to send greetings on the eve via text message services provided by the country's three state-owned telecom giants, the cost of which roughly stood at 0.1 yuan (about 1.64 cents) per message.
The trend began to reverse after WeChat brought free message and voice services to mobile users who only need to pay for their data flow through the Internet.
Last year, text messages sent on the eve through services of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom totaled 13.3 billion, up 11 percent year on year. This year's figure has yet to be released.
Telecom providers have felt the pressure from WeChat as text messaging revenue of China Mobile saw a drop in 2011.