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Tencent confirms the launch of its work-only SNS app to take on Alibaba

The app below to the left is named "Qiye Wexin", or enterprise WeChat.
The app named “Qiye Wexin” below to the left , is the SNS app for work to be launched by Tencent. @Fenng from Weibo

Tencent’s SNS app for work is on its way! On Thursday night it confirmed through one of its WeChat public accounts that the app will be released in one or two months.

This Wechat app, which, similarly to Slack, is used for communicating within a team at work, may be a huge boon to Chinese professionals, since almost every company uses Wechat at work as a communication tool.

Tencent, the developer of China’s largest SNS app WeChat, is entering the corporate social network market, where the most prominent player right now is Alibaba.

On Wednesday, a Weibo user posted a smartphone screenshot of an app called Enterprise WeChat. It sparked debate on whether Tencent will be launching a work-only app.

Tech media outlet TMTpost confirmed the rumor with Tencent on Thursday. “Enterprise WeChat was especially made for communications within the enterprise,” said Lei Maofeng, Chief Business Officer of WeChat Enterprise Accounts.

Judging from the leaked screenshot, this app, now under internal beta testing, has two major functions. One is an instant messaging function, and the other contains a slew of choices for improving office efficiency, which includes document transfer, leave approval and reimbursement applications.

The mobile interface of the new app looks quite similar to WeChat, except for the blue and white color scheme. It has an IM page, an address book and a profile page.

Its IM page resembles WeChat in that it offers options for one-to-one chats and group chats, but it upgraded the group chat function by adding groups sorted into departments with smaller groups under each department.

Another difference between this app and WeChat is that it provides a choice in the IM page to notify senders after their messages have been read.

The “one hour break” and “off work” functions of the coming app. @互联网那点事 from Weibo

Other highlights are the “one hour break” and “off work” functions, which, if activated, prevent the user from receiving any new messages.

According to the leak, different versions of this app are designed to be used on iPhones, Android phones, Macs, PCs and online through internet browsers.

So why Tencent is launching this enterprise networking software? For one thing, Tencent is not about to miss out on this huge market in China, especially when its biggest rival Alibaba launched DingTalk long ago, in December 2014. Moreover, it has always been a problem for WeChat users that the platform, which was originally more for private social networking, gets mixed up with work when they have to add more and more work-related people. This problem is not a small one when more than 600 million Wechat users are depending on the platform.

Besides the work-only app, Tencent has been providing enterprise services on the WeChat platform. Third-party companies will be able to provide services and information to users by signing up for a WeChat enterprise account and a WeChat public account.

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