China’s Tencent rolls out videoconferencing tool for overseas market amid coronavirus pandemic
- The videoconferencing tool is currently free to use and can host up to 300 participants in an online meeting
- Zoom’s daily active user numbers have grown 67 per cent since early January
Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings has launched a videoconferencing app for the overseas market as the coronavirus pandemic forces people globally to embrace the work-from-home model, putting the company in direct competition with international players such as Zoom.
VooV Meeting, the international version of the Shenzhen-based company’s domestic app Tencent Meeting, was rolled out in over 100 countries and regions including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan last Friday, Tencent said in a statement.
The tool is currently free to use and can host up to 300 participants in an online meeting, according to the statement.
“The coronavirus situation is grim overseas, and we hope to offer the capability of working remotely for users in other countries and regions,” Wu Zurong, vice-president of Tencent Cloud, said in the statement. “We expect to roll out the services in more parts of the world in the future in compliance with local regulations.”
Tencent’s move comes as governments around the world are trying to combat the accelerating pandemic which has spread to 170 countries and regions and as of Monday had forced more than one-fifth of the world’s population to stay in their homes.
Italy, Spain and France have imposed nationwide lockdowns, while more than 10,000 deaths have been reported in Europe alone, the new epicentre of the disease. Britain was the latest to join other nations in imposing strict stay-at-home orders on Monday.
Although workers around the world are relying on remote working tools to keep businesses operating, Tencent’s new app will need to challenge existing players to gain market share.
Zoom, the US-based remote conference service, has seen “a large increase in the number of free users, meeting minutes and new video use cases”, chief executive Eric Yuan said on a company earnings call earlier this month. Zoom’s daily active user numbers have grown 67 per cent since early January, data from Apptopia showed.
Microsoft’s remote work service Teams has over 44 million daily active users, up from 20 million in November, the company said last week.
The surge in remote working apps internationally follows a similar pattern in China when the coronavirus first hit the country in late January, making Tencent Meeting and Alibaba’s DingTalk the go-to apps during the virus outbreak. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
DingTalk recorded a 356 per cent increase in downloads from both iPhone and Android smartphones in mainland China from February 2 to February 29 compared with January 5 to February 1, while WeChat Work from Tencent and Lark from ByteDance saw a 171 and 650 per cent increase respectively during the same period, according to mobile research firm App Annie.
The daily active user base for Tencent Meeting surpassed 10 million within two months of its launch in December, making it the biggest video meeting app in China, according to Tencent.
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