MSN will stay put in China

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-7 23:45:04

Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger (MSN) will halt service in every country but China, the company's Chinese branch confirmed to the Global Times Wednesday.

"In the first quarter of 2013, this instant messaging service will be replaced by our newly acquired Skype, except in the Chinese market where we believe many people are using MSN," a Microsoft China public relations staff member surnamed Li told the Global Times Wednesday via telephone.

Microsoft China declined to provide the number of MSN users in China.

Data e-mailed by Analysys International to the Global Times Wednesday indicated that in the second quarter of 2012 MSN held a 4.56 percent market share in China, ranking the fourth in the domestic instant messaging market.

By consolidating MSN into Skype, Skype intends "to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience," the company said in an announcement Tuesday.

After this consolidation, MSN users in China can still send and receive instant messages to friends abroad through MSN, as the information of some 100 million MSN users overseas will be transferred to Skype, enabling Skype users chat with their MSN friends, Li said.

On October 25, the company had already released Skype 6.0 software that lets users log in to Skype using their MSN accounts.

"Microsoft may also consolidate MSN service into Skype in China, soon after the exclusive agency agreement signed in 2005 between Skype and the Beijing-based TOM Online Inc is no longer in force," Yan Xiaojia, an instant messenger expert from Analysys International, told the Global Times Wednesday.

That agreement is still in effect, Microsoft told the Global Times, without commenting further on the future of the exclusivity arrangement.

Microsoft's decision to replace MSN with Skype is wise, as the latter could provide users with a better and more comprehensive experience, You Tianyu, an Internet analyst from the domestic market research firm iResearch, told the Global Times Tuesday.

However, even if they finally consolidate MSN service into Skype in China, Microsoft may not be able to take the majority of the Chinese instant messaging market unless they pay more attention to this sector, Yan said.

 "Around me, most Chinese people abroad prefer to use QQ and WeChat when chatting with each other or sending instant messages or video calls to people in China. Skype is the first choice for chatting with foreigners. MSN never occurs to us," a student surnamed An, who is studying in the US for four years, told the Global Times Wednesday via QQ.

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