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With Android-based iQQ, Does Tencent Finally Have a Mobile Strategy?

Tencent (HKG:0700), China’s social media giant, has been really good at building Android apps of late, but it has always lacked a coherent mobile platform, despite a couple of shaky, flaky attempts. Perhaps hoping for a case of ‘third time lucky,’ today we have a glimpse of the Android-based iQQ mobile OS.

Essentially, it’s not much more than an Android skin – or, a ROM – with a bunch of Tencent’s existing Android apps (such as Tencent Weibo, QQ instant-messenger, and QQ Browser, etc) whacked in there. Needless to say, Google’s (NASQAQ:GOOG) ecosystem gets the boot – which is theoretically fine, this being an ‘open’ OS – replaced instead with Tencent’s own Android app store, QQ Mail, and even the company’s own Soso search engine.

In what looks to be the first iQQ iteration, it’ll be sold on a Tian Yu W808 handset (pictured above) – made by the same OEM that created Alibaba’s first Aliyun phone.

The iQQ W808 phone packs an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, and comes with a 4.3-inch screen (with a pretty standard 800 by 480 pixel resolution) and is based on Android 2.3, which is the newest version until the upcoming v4.0 gets a widespread rollout. The price is set at 2,980 RMB (US$469). That’s none too cheap, and makes it quite a bit more expensive than a number of more attractive phones at grey import prices (such as the cooler HTC Desire S), and a full 1,000 RMB pricier than the more powerful Xiaomi phone.

Tencent’s previous effort last year was the HiQQ Android-based platform, which got about as much media coverage as a ‘watching paint dry’ contest, and was aimed at much cheaper devices that Chinese mobile telcos could sell for as little as 1,000 RMB with subsidies. This iQQ effort looks just as unconvincing, but at least it has better specifications. It’ll be interesting to see how it stacks up against Baidu’s more carefully customized Yi OS – also based on Android – which has been revealed but has yet to announce its hardware partner or hit the shelves.

[Source: QQ Tech news - article in Chinese]


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