Photos of a presentation purport to show a secret, upcoming Tencent (HKG:0700) product called Free Talk, which would be a Skype-like VoiP service. From looking at the slides (pictured right; click to enlarge) it’d presumably offer free calls – using mobile data instead – between phones on different phone networks, which might be disruptive to China’s three mobile telcos. If it also enabled calls to landlines, then that’d be quite a breakthrough for a local service.
Tencent is China’s social media giant, and already has apps that allow voice and/or video communication between smartphones using GPRS or 3G data – such as a recent update to QQ instant-messenger, which added video IM on some handsets; and its Facetime-like video calling service Weishi. Pure voice calling, however, is a niche that it has not yet filled. And with hundreds of millions of China’s netizens and mobile users having QQ numbers (i.e. accounts), that’s a sure way to get some traction.
It’s not clear why Tencent would make this separate from existing services, or in what way it’d be implemented. The slides mention “iPhone,” suggesting that it might be a conventional app for iOS and probably Android as well. One possibility is for it to be built in to its upcoming Android-based iQQ phones.
The two photos in question were sauced from a Weibo user – @互联网的那点事 – who’s often a reliable source of leaks in the local tech scene.