Internet users in China use instant messaging in staggering numbers
The internet user population in China has increased rapidly in the last few years, but there is plenty of room for more growth. As users continue to diversify how they access the web and the online activities they partake in, there remains one constant: They are addicted to instant messaging (IM).
According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), IM ranked second to search in reach among internet users, at 79.4% in June 2011. Mobile IM was even more popular, with nearly 85% of mobile internet users chatting online during December 2011.
There are several IM programs available in the country, but online media giant Tencent has nearly cornered the market with QQ, the ubiquitous IM platform that debuted in February 1999. According to iResearch Consulting Group’s “iUserTracker” data from December 2011, Tencent QQ had 190.3 million unique visitors per day, reaching 72.9% of internet users.
The nearest competitor was AliWangwang, the instant messaging app produced by Tencent rival Alibaba Group, at 34.8 million daily users and a reach of 13.3%.
Tencent, in its latest unaudited annual report, claimed that QQ had 721 million active user accounts at the end of 2011, a relatively modest 11.3% gain from 2010. The company blamed slower growth on market saturation, but reported an increase in user activity on the strength of mobile offerings and “enhanced cross-platform integration,” presumably IM integration with the firms’ microblog, Tencent Weibo.
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