We’ve observed a lot of western companies looking to cash in on the explosive growth of China’s mobile population by taking their products into the country. Now here’s an example of a Chinese giant looking shop its own mobile services abroad: the internet portal Tencent is now distributing its QQ mobile browser in the GetJar app store.
Under the terms of the deal, GetJar will be distributing QQ browser, which is available for iOS, Android, Symbian and Java devices, as part of Tencent’s strategy to take its products to a more global audience. The move comes as we are seeing more activity from Western companies to expand their business in China, too. Most recently, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) finally started to accept payments in Yuan on its Chinese App Store.
The deal is not exclusive as such: Tencent already offers its QQ browser through the Apple App Store, for example, although it is in Chinese so fairly unapproachable for those who don’t speak the language.
Tencent claims that its QQ browser is one of the fastest on the market. Because it is run as a cloud service, on Tencent’s XCloud architeture, users can also use the browser to securely store software, pictures and other files as part of the offering. Mobile QQ browser is built for mobile through cloud services.
In China, QQ browser is the second most-popular mobile web browser, according to November figures from Ai Media Consulting (via China News). It has a 27 percent share of the market, with the UC Web browser at 65 percent. (Opera is in third with six percent, and the browsers that are dominant in the West such as Safari on iOS, or Android’s web browser, don’t even seem to register.)
That share in China alone gives QQ significant penetration. As of last month, China had 1 billion mobile users, with 102 million on smartphones, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
That means that if the market share estimates are accurate, QQ has potentially 270 million users, since the browser is also available for feature phones on networks slower than 3G.
It will be interesting to see if the QQ browser will be able to get much traction in Western markets, where people largely default to using mobile web browsers that are pre-loaded on to devices: meaning iOS users use Safari, Android users use Android, WP7 users take Internet Explorer and so on.
Possibly because China is one of those places where mobile internet growth is outpacing that of fixed growth (fixed lines are actually in decline; and there are currently 150 million broadband lines), we’ve seen a lot of innovation — probably more than you get in the West — from tech companies in the country to target mobile users.
It’s not unusual for an internet portal like Tencent to make and distribute mobile phones, app stores, games, payment systems, messaging apps and mobile browsers. Others that have also followed this route include Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) and Alibaba. On the Android platform alone, there are dozens of companies operating app storefronts distributing apps for the OS.