China Mobile IM battle field is white hot right now. There are shattering news every few days now. My last update is on Netease's YiChat, see the following:
Today, Sina is announcing it is launching its own version of Mobile IM application, WeMeet. See the following:
Quick observations from this announcement:
1. WeMeet is certainly a catchy name. Except it is catchy for English speakers. WeMeet actually sounds like "Micro-Rice" in Chinese. Sina needs to learn some basic marketing. Needs to know your audience. WeMeet is developed for Chinese (not English speaking customers). I am certain Sina can find another more catchy name for their product.
2. It is integrated with Weibo. I think this is the calling card for this application. If it has any chance of being popular, this is it.
3. Feature wise, it is not impressive at all. It didn't have any features of importance that current dominant application (Tencent's WeChat) doesn't have. Compared to Netease's YiChat that has quite a few significant features that are clearly superior to Tencent's WeChat.
4. It also didn't get a tie up with a telecom service provider unlike that of Netease's YiChat tie-up with China Telecom. Customers will not get any freebies from any of China's big three telecom service providers.
5. The application itself was not developed by Sina itself. The company that develops this product has some investment from Sina. It is not clear at this point whether this company is majority owned by Sina. For almost all cases, it would be a bad arrangement. Integration and inter-office politics usually doom those type of arrangement.
But for this case, I think it is good. Sina is terrible in developing technologies. Its own inter-departmental politics are terrible.
This new company will encounter significant resistance from Sina's many departments. But it is still a better arrangement than having Sina does it itself.
For me, I would rather have a company that I never heard of to develops a new technology product than having Sina itself develops it.
6. The timing is terrible. At this point, everybody is talking about Tencent's and China Telecoms' YiChat. It represents a truly significant event not just in China internet industry, but it is significant in China's overall economic development. It is a first time that a Chinese state own monopoly (China Telecom) cooperates with a private industry (Netease) and giving all execution power to that private company.
For Sina's announcement, it only has average Chinese customers' attention for a few hours. Vast majority of Chinese is much more interested in how the Netease/China Telcomm venture works out. Even those who don't care about Mobile IM products, they pay attention to Netease/China Telecomm venture because it represent a monopoly deliberately giving up power, a truly rare event.
I guess for Sina to pick this horrible timing, they are probably stuck between a rock and hard place. For Sina, now is the least worst.
In summary, under normal circumstances, Sina's WeMeet would represent the most formidable competitor Tencent's WeChat would face.
But this is not normal circumstance. Next, I would give another quick update on Netease's YiChat development.