New apps let users stay in touch at the touch of a button

Chinese versions of popular social-networking phenomena like Twitter, Facebook, Groupon and others are continuing to pop up as the rapid development of smart phones and 3G mobile systems paves the way for the popularity of new communication methods. Among the most recent to jump on the very crowded bandwagon are Weixin and Miliao, the new Chinese versions of the popular Kik Messenger chat app for iPhones and other smart phones.

The real-time cross-platform mobile messaging apps can be installed on smart phones like Android, iPhone and Symbian. With Xiaomi Tech’s Miliao app, users can chat, send voice messages and texts, and even send pictures. While it has a lot of the same functionality as a standard smart phone, both Miliao and Weixin are a cheaper option that doesn’t take up a user’s mobile minutes or text messages to operate, it merely runs off a user’s allotted network bandwidth.

There’s not too much risk of using up the bandwidth and racking up heavy overage fees, though, as Weixin and Miliao both let users track and monitor their bandwidth usage. Miliao even provides users with a detailed account including numbers of instant texts, voice messages and picture.  

Since the launch of Miliao and Weixin in December of last year, some could argue that both apps are just knockoffs of  Kik Messenger, an app produced by Canadian Ted Livingston and his team. But the Chinese team that developed Miliao says it is not a copy of Kik but offers users stronger and more entertaining functions. Miliao is even more ambitious about building a community, “in which all people use their real identity, among mobile phones users,” said Huang Jiangji, vice-president of Xiaomi Tech, in an interview with China Entrepreneur.

Taking inspiration from Kik, Miliao also connects the address lists of mobile phone users to create friend lists on Miliao. That is to say, if a person is in your mobile contacts, then he or she will automatically be in your Miliao friend list. But some users claim that “the connection between address lists and Miliao has invented the user’s privacy,” said a user who goes by Zhaoolli.

Figures show that more than 5 million people now are using Miliao, and some 1.5 million people are using Weixin, a production by QQ.com.

Among Miliao users, some 60 percent to 70 percent are young people, mostly students. The most popular time of using Miliao is from 10 am to 12 am and 10 pm to 12 pm, QQ.com reported. But in the business field, Miliao seems to have fewer users. “I am not interested in the app at all, because it is for teenagers,” said Zhong Ying, an employee at a computer game company.

In addition, Miliao announced last week that its international version has been developed and is set to land in overseas markets. The first international version is in English-language, targeting Asian and North American markets, and other languages services will be launched later. The international market is a big target for Miliao, as text messaging fees are more expensive in foreign countries, which may provide the app with stronger potential to expand its market. 

Source: Global Times

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