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News  22, Jan 2013

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi targets Southeast Asia with MiTalk IM app

MiTalkJoining the fray of regional and social-media based instant messaging networks, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is pushing its MiTalk IM client to the Southeast Asia market through collaboration with Mface.

MiTalk is a mobile IM network run by Chinese startup Xiaomi, which produces the famed MiOne and Mi-Two smartphones based on the company’s MIUI fork of Android. The brand is regarded as “China’s iPhone” because of the build quality of the smartphones and tight integration of the MIUI operating system with the company’s app and services ecosystem.

MiTalk actually has a user base of about 29 million, reports The Next Web. To help expand the IM network’s userbase, Xiaomi has partnered with Mface, an upcoming social network based in the region. The app is available for iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows Phone and the PC. Xiaomi is actually planning to have the app localized for Southeast Asian countries to help accelerate uptake of users.

Tencent Tech (English translation) reports that Mface will help promote the service to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia, and looks to signing 5 million users within a year. Mface will take care of marketing the product, while Xiaomi will focus on research and development.

Xiaomi raised US$219 million in 2012 at a US$4 billion valuation, and has its MIUI-powered phones online have been selling like hotcakes, with demand far outpacing supply. Xiaomi has so far sold about 7.12 million smartphones in 2012, earning RMB 12.6 billion (US$ 2 billion) in revenue.

I’ve checked out the MiTalk iPhone app, and the interface looks slick and clean, with both IM and social networking features (friends nearby, wall and news feed). The only limitation of the app, from my point of view, is that I don’t currently have any friends on the network — perhaps given my geographic location, and my friends’ preference for their existing IM and social networks, like WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook.

To put things into context, MiTalk’s main competition have the upper hand in terms of numbers. Tencent’s WeChat has over 300 million users. LINE recently passed the 100 million mark. Even Facebook, with its Messenger application, gives you potential access to 1 billion active users.

J. Angelo Racoma

J. Angelo Racoma

A technology and automotive journalist with an interest in emerging standards, J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo has been active in online media since the early blogging and social networking days, and is co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing platform for freelancers.

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