Entrepreneurs and application developers from China will be able to fully utilize Tencent Holdings Ltd's vast number of online communities, consequent to the Internet giant opening its mobile-based social networks for outside developers from Thursday.
The Shenzhen-based Tencent said it will make available the online communities on its instant messaging service QQ to outside developers so that they can tap into the service's 380 million monthly active users and use creative ways to commercialize the large user group it has.
Dowson Tong, senior executive vice-president of Tencent, said China's online social network has evolved from groups of families, friends and other acquaintances to communities based on shared interests and hobbies.
"Not only do we want to connect people with people, but also connect people with services, so that we can build a much broader business ecosystem," he said.
According to Tencent, there are already tens of millions of online communities on QQ with various themes, ranging from a certain singer's fans to those keen on losing weight or those interested in workouts.
Zhang Xiaochao, who is in charge of Tencent's instant messaging business, said that by tapping into different communities, content providers and app developers cannot only help Tencent provide better services to meet the individual demand of each group, but also find ways to make good money, particularly through online-to-offline services.
As China enters the new era of mobile Internet with people's interest and time becoming more fragmented, social networks of mobile communities will no doubt become Tencent's core asset, said industry observers. Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center said that by the end of June, about 594 million Chinese accessed the Internet through their smartphones.
Tencent did not reveal its exact user numbers for its mobile QQ community, but said that 66.4 percent of its tens of millions of communities on QQ leveraged their group members' shared hobbies. For example, the community for the fans of TFBOYS, three young new singers with average age of 15 in China, has more than 20 million people on QQ.
Zhang Yanan, an analyst at market research firm International Data Corp, said that by opening its social network resources to outsiders, Tencent can help advertisers or app developers quickly find the target user groups they want.
"It will certainly help Tencent diversify its business model. More than half of its revenues are still from gaming business. By helping companies quickly reach the ideal group they want to reach, Tencent will see a boost in its revenue," she said.