Tencent Holdings Ltd's booth at the Eighth Beijing International Digital Content Expo held late last month. [Photo/China Daily]
BEIJING - Tencent Holdings Ltd, the largest Chinese Internet company by market capitalization, said it will open its platform of Tencent communities within six months, following Facebook's example and in the wake of its bitter dispute with Internet security firm Qihoo 360.
Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong-listed company, said on Wednesday in Beijing that his company is also considering opening its instant messaging service QQ to developers and small- and medium-sized websites.
Tencent's QQ had 637 million users by the end of September, the most for an instant messenger in China, its financial report for the third quarter said.
Ma's remark followed criticism of Tencent's proprietary ecosystem, which forbids competitors from making profits out of Tencent's products and partly triggered the recent high-profile spat with Qihoo 360 - China's biggest free security software developer.
"This (the dispute with Qihoo 360) has taught us a good lesson and led to self-examination in my company," Ma said.
The company competes with almost all major Internet companies in areas including news, search engines, instant messaging, online games and online payment.
"But after this (the dispute with Qihoo 360), we found that it's not necessary for Tencent to do everything. We need to help build a healthy ecosystem with other players," Ma said.
He said Tencent is about to launch a "complete, powerful, and open platform" in the next few months.
He suggested the small and medium-sized companies may also use Tencent's online payment system. The developers can also put applications on QQ, which has hundreds of millions of visits every day.
"In the past, many small and medium-sized enterprises had good products, but they just could not find consumers," Ma said. He said that Tencent's platform, with its huge user base, can help those companies.
Tencent purchased Google-invested Chinese forum software company Comsenz Inc for between $40 million and $50 million in August, in order to gain community product technology.
Dong Xu, an analyst from domestic research firm Analysys International, said open platforms will be the future trend in the Internet industry. "Facebook is a successful example of opening a platform," Dong said, adding that third-party developers had helped enrich the content of Facebook.