Number of monthly active Tencent QQ IM user accounts in China 2010-2018

In China’s fast-moving technological industry, only those who respond promptly to market changes survive the trials of time. Tencent’s  QQ released in 1999, five years prior to Facebook was a successful app that managed to attract about 807 million monthly active users in 2018, more than double of Twitter users. 

The penguin’s secrets

   As the first product developed by the tech giant Tencent, QQ was a simple instant messenger with an adorable penguin logo that shadowed the Israeli app ICQ. The major success of QQ was based on its user ID which had numbers and not alphabets. Most of the Chinese users found numbers easier to remember and share without being embarrassed with their accent. Another convenient feature of QQ is the integration function, where customers can integrate other services and platforms such as social networks, emails, and other entertainment websites under one user ID. With these features, QQ became the best instant messenger in China killing ICQ and MSN messenger. Its monthly user number grew from 233 million to a peak of 899 million in 2016. 

The fading glow

   In 2011, the social media pioneer Tencent launched another messaging app WeChat which became the leading mobile app in China. As an upgraded mobile version of the desktop native QQ, WeChat included a multitude of new features that are more favorable to users like the QR code mobile payment function. Additionally, QQ took measures to integrate innovative and engaging entertainment elements. Although its monthly active user number dropped to 655 million in 2019, which was around 250 million fewer than its sibling WeChat, it was the second most popular instant messenger. Tencent also reported an increase in the time spent on QQ after the introduction of Kandian, the algorithm-driven entertainment news feed within QQ. 

Number of monthly active Tencent QQ IM user accounts in China from 2010 to 2018

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Release date

March 2019



Survey time period

2010 to 2018

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