Instant messaging service WeChat, owned by China’s TenCent, China’s biggest internet company, 34 percent owned by Naspers, has launched in Africa as it plans to expand world-over.
After downloading the free app, one is required to sign up using their mobile number or via Facebook. Then invite friends or join groups to chat. Users with smartphones will need mobile data or a WiFi connection while users of the app on web will need an internet connected PC.
Apart from IM chat, users can also hold video chats, send videos, URL links, music or pictures to their friends. Group chats can host up to 40 people at once. WeChat also has location based features allowing users to look around to find friends around them or around the world. Brands and celebrities can also use Twitter-like verified accounts or official accounts to build an own following and developers can use free SDK and API under the official accounts to make more applications.
With the introduction of WeChat telecoms SMS revenue is expected to drop even as users in Africa adopt smartphones. Its launch is also a threat to free IM apps like WhatsApp, LINE, Hike and and even Google and Facebook’s messenger platforms.