Monday, 2024 March 4

Tencent resurrects its failed Facebook-clone Pengyou as a mix of everything

Chinese internet mammoth Tencent, which already owns the country’s two largest social messaging apps WeChat and QQ, is revamping its long failed Facebook knockoff into a combination of Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder in the company’s latest effort to launch a brand new social networking service, 36Kr reported.

The new app named “Pengyou,” or “Friend” in Chinese, targets college students and young white-collar workers. It is Tencent’s sixth social networking experiment within four months, after releasing video-calling app Maohu, Tinder-like Qingliao, cartoon avatar maker Kapu, audio-based networking service Echo, and microblogging social platform Youji, as more major Chinese tech companies are coveting the country’s social media landscape which has been dominated by WeChat.

Pengyou is a redesigned version of its former Facebook copycat, the real name social-networking portal that was launched in 2010 with the intention of connecting users with friends, and was later closed in 2017 to pass the baton to the then-rising WeChat.

The brand new Pengyou allows its users to post new content and pictures in an Instagram-like style interface, and receive comments and “likes” from other friends. Users can also discover new friends from the same company or school, or the same city, through Facebook-like in-site connecting functions. 

A screenshot of Tencent’s new app Pengyou. On the main page, users can see friends’ posts and discover new users by tapping into the “Same Company” and “Same City” buttons. 

The meetup section, in which users can set up filters such as gender and intention—either looking for a romantic relationship, friendship, a sports buddy, or just a person to hang out with, could boost a potential dating use of the app.

Access to the new app is currently on invitation only. Netizens can log in via WeChat or QQ account after obtaining an invitation code from the platform’s WeChat Official Account or from other users, and then register with a real name and a valid ID.

It’s unclear yet when Pengyou will be officially released.

The company’s recent moves signal its rising awareness of fiercer competition from rivals amid the flattish growth of WeChat and a slowdown on the usage of Moments, WeChat’s news feed-like function.

The average time spent on WeChat decreased by 8.4%  between December 2018 and June 2019, according to QuestMobile data, and only 15% of people born after 2000 post every day on WeChat, according to research firm JiGuang. In contrast, ByteDance’s Douyin short-video app counts 51% of its users born after 1995.

As young users are fleeing from the so-called “everything app” WeChat, other major Chinese tech companies are taking steps to create a next-gen hit social app. ByteDance launched Duoshan and Feiliao, and invested in a campus-facing social app named Summer. Alibaba unveiled Real Ruwo, while Baidu released a location-based audio social app Tingtong, and Weibo introduced Oasis, KrASIA wrote.

A tougher rivalry in the social media landscape is developing as ambitious players are testing new ideas and formats to catch Chinese youngsters.

Wency Chen
Wency Chen
Wency Chen is a reporter KrASIA based in Beijing, covering tech innovations in&beyond the Greater China Area. Previously, she studied at Columbia Journalism School and reported on art exhibits, New York public school systems, LGBTQ+ rights, and Asian immigrants. She is also an enthusiastic reader, a diehard fan of indie rock and spicy hot pot, as well as a to-be filmmaker (Let’s see).

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