The WeChat instant messaging service created by TenCent in China was launched in South Africa yesterday and will be available throughout Africa.
WeChat, a new mobile social communication tool supporting voice, video, photo and text interaction, has confirmed its place in the African market with the announcement of cross platform compatibility for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and BlackBerry smartphones.
The service, which is freely available, enables users to chat individually or in groups using a mobile data or a WiFi connection. It simply requires handset owners to undergo a subscription process via Facebook or mobile number.
Acclaimed Internet analyst Mary Meeker, of VC giants Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, recently highlighted the role played by WeChat during her annual presentation of Internet trends. Founded by Hong Kong-listed Internet company Tencent, which is part-owned by South Africa’s Naspers, the service has grown exponentially since its launch in 2011.
Brett Loubser, formerly with Samsung in South Africa, has been appointed managing director of WeChat South Africa.
‚”We are extremely enthusiastic about WeChat’s prospects for growth in Africa'” he says. “”Traditionally, mobile users tend towards services that enable them to engage in conversation without restrictive costing models. The fact that WeChat is a free service equipped with unparalleled voice, video, photo and text sharing functionality bodes well for its continued progress on the continent‚””.
In regions where access to electronic payment facilities is limited, WeChat also offers an elegant solution, says Loubser.
‚””WeChat is freely downloadable. This means that any user on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and BlackBerry enabled devices can access the application without the need for a payment mechanism such as a credit card. This, we believe, is a significant differentiator within the African context where commonly used payment systems often deviate from globally accepted models‚””.
WeChat is currently available in the Apple iStore, Windows Phone Marketplace, Android Marketplace, BlackBerry World storefront and the Nokia Ovi Store.
Features of WeChat
WeChat is free to install, use and download. Users can text each other, swap voice messages with a ‚””Hold to Talk‚”” feature, video chat, as well as share images, music, and videos. WeChat also comes with comprehensive privacy setting functions, which enable users to limit who they share their information with.
It also offers:
¬∑ Moments Sharing photos, texts and URL links with trusted friends and contacts.
¬∑ Voice and Video Chatting – ‚’Hold-To-Talk’ enables users to send voice messages at the touch of a button. Quality of video chats is another added value experience of WeChat. You can talk to your friends face to face in an easy-to-use way.
¬∑ Group Chatting Group chat on WeChat allows users to chat with as many as 40 people at the same time, making the group chatting experience more fun like never before
¬∑ Location Based Features With innovative features like ‚’Shake’ and ‚’Look Around’, it was never as easy to find friends around you. Shake enables users to contact people around the world by shaking their devices. Look around is another innovative feature, which enables users to find like-minded people around them.
¬∑ Official Accounts A feature that can be utilized by brands, celebrities and merchants to build interactivity with their followers. Free SDK and API are available for ‚””Official Accounts‚”” owners and developers to develop applications on WeChat.
¬∑ Web WeChat Chat with someone using a PC Browser.