Menu
WhatsApp deal gives Facebook a path to crowded China market

WhatsApp deal gives Facebook a path to crowded China market

Facebook has been blocked in China, but WhatsApp can still be downloaded

WhatsApp's Chinese language page.

WhatsApp's Chinese language page.

It might not have figured in Facebook's calculations, but its deal to buy WhatsApp may help the social networking giant get access to the Chinese market.

Unlike Facebook which is blocked in China, the main site of WhatsApp can be accessed in the country and the product is available for download.

Facebook has previously said it has been examining its entry into the Chinese market. But authorities in the nation control sensitive content on social networking sites, either through deleting user posts, or blocking access to the services.

This happened in July 2009 when China cut access to Facebook, after protests in the western part of the nation broke out into ethnic violence. Despite the government block, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said he was interested in expanding the company's presence in China. In 2010, he was even spotted visiting a few of China's biggest Internet firms, fueling speculation that his company was on the verge of setting up a joint venture in the country.

Since then, Facebook has yet to formally dip its toes into the Chinese market. The social network's potential to help users organize over political issues is a key reason why Chinese authorities have blocked the site, according to analysts.

The mobile instant messaging client WhatsApp, in contrast, hasn't met such scrutiny in China. The main reason is probably that the product isn't that popular in the nation.

The app has over 450 million monthly users across the world, and Facebook's CEO believes it will eventually reach the 1 billion users figure. But In China, it lags way behind WeChat, the dominant mobile app in the instant messaging space from Tencent.

The app, also known locally as Weixin, has over 270 million monthly active users, most of them in China. But WeChat isn't simply a messaging app, and has evolved into a social networking platform to host other services, according to analysts.

"Weixin is so well-established in China," said Mark Natkin, managing director for Marbridge Consulting. "It continues to gain strength as Tencent expands the platform into far beyond mobile instant messaging, but into e-commerce, e-payment, and gaming and a variety of other areas."

Other Chinese Internet firms are also getting into messaging apps. Last year, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group launched Laiwang, and China Telecom has partnered with a local Internet firm to roll out its own YiChat app. But even these more established Chinese companies are struggling to compete with WeChat, Natkin said.

"I think trying to enter and compete in China in the mobile instant messaging market would be very challenging," he added. In addition, Facebook would have to overcome any regulatory concerns Chinese authorities might have with the product, he said.

In November, a Chinese official said the government actually welcomed "Facebook-like sites" to do business in the country, but that they would have to follow relevant laws. This could include not circulating content that will threaten China's stability.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileMergers and acquisitionsinternetbusiness issuesFacebooksocial networkingmobile applicationsInternet-based applications and servicesTencent

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments