Chinese Tech Magazine Drops F-Bomb on Cover, Curses Out Major Chat Service
Ah, the wonder of cultural differences. The front cover on today’s China Computerworld (计算机世界) magazine issue certainly pulled no punches. Sensationally titled “‘Dog-F**king’ Tencent,” the feature story is critique of the Internet giant which produces the Tencent QQ web portal and massively popular chat service.
And that poor, scarf-wearing, puppy-eyed penguin bleeding profusely from knife wounds on the front cover? Why, who could that be but the adorable QQ mascot!
Written from the perspective of the Internet company’s competitors, the article rails against Tencent for its lack of creativity, imitating superior products in already established markets and eventually bullying out the competition. Danwei has graciously translated the Chinese text of the original article:
Tencent is never the first to “eat crab” [to try out new things]. It looks for a space in a mature markets to shove its way in. However, the methods it chooses also invite controversy: imitation, sometimes unscrupulous “shanzhai” copying.
As early as 2006, Sina founder Wang Zhidong openly accused [Tencent founder] Ma Huateng of being the industry’s “plagiarism king,” and of brazen plagiarism at that. Similar voices have been heard in the years since. Most recently, Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI) director Hu Yanping questioned Tencent’s creative abilities, saying that it was not an outstanding innovator, and was actually the mortal enemy of innovation among smaller Internet enterprises.
Beginning with its first product, OICQ (the former incarnation of Tencent QQ), which copied ICQ, Tencent has never been able to bury its “copying gene.” First it brought in QQ Show and a line of value-added products from Korea, then it imitated Sina by building a portal website. In online gaming, it copied Ourgame (联众) by developing a platform, and then like Shanda brought in international players, started in-house development (like Netease). Then there was the C2C e-commerce site Paipai, and the third-party payment service TenPay (财付通). Without exception, these were “shanzhai” products, which lies at the root of the hatred for Tencent.
“Microblogs, anti-virus, e-commerce, and now group purchasing: the business models in these sectors are there for the taking, and everyone is copying. How can you say that Tencent should be generous and not try to make money there?” asked Xie Wen, a long-time Internet professional. In an interview with this reporter, he said that the animosity toward Tencent within the industry is like “whining children,” and “Fifty paces laughing a hundred paces.”
As for the charge of imitation, Ma Huateng’s response is: Imitation is the most reliable form of innovation.
Despite the vulgar (and sensationalized) cover image, the article makes a point. The QQ chat service, originally called OICQ (“Open ICQ,” remember ICQ?), could be said to resemble MSN Messenger:
Of course, Tencent isn’t the only company guilty of this charge. RenRen, China’s most popular social network, bears some eerie similarities to another certain social network. It has been China’s effective method of competing with larger global technology brands; in March of this year, Google only drew one-third of the market, compared to domestic Chinese search engine Baidu‘s two-thirds (the portal had been modeled on Google in the first place).
In response, Tencent immediately released a statement criticizing the vulgar attack:
Tencent is a meticulous and responsible company. QQ is a nationally-recognized trademark. For many years, we have striven to provide superior Internet services to the general public and to make the lives of our users richer and more convenient. We welcome commentary from the media on our products, services, and company development.
However, the China Computerworld feature story, without conducting any interviews with Tencent, used crude language against a responsible enterprise and used a disgusting illustration to damage our trademark and corporate image, creating an extremely adverse reaction and rudely hurting the feelings of the vast numbers of ordinary Tencent users. We strongly condemn this action and reserve the right to take legal action to protect our rights.
If only the Western media was this offensive. Let the mudslinging begin!
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