Alibaba’s mobile messaging app targets companies

Source:Reuters Published: 2015-1-18 23:03:01

Alibaba Group Holding is piloting a mobile messaging app aimed at blending social networking with business, an Alibaba spokeswoman said on Friday, as the company expands its enterprise services.

The app, called DingTalk, was made available in December and is still in the beta testing phase, according to the company's site.

Capable of supporting conference call and group messaging functions, DingTalk targets small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which are already Alibaba's customers. The company has 8.5 million active sellers on its various e-commerce platforms, according to its IPO prospectus.

Mobile messaging apps are wildly popular in the tech sector. Alibaba's arch-rival, Tencent Holdings, operates WeChat, which has 468 million monthly active users and was estimated to be worth as much as $64 billion by brokerage CLSA.

Underscoring the appeal of such apps, Facebook Inc in October completed its $22 billion acquisition of WhatsApp.

Alibaba's previous attempt at a mobile messaging app, Laiwang, has been seen by many analysts and industry observers as a flop, with the Chinese market dominated by WeChat.

By focusing on smaller companies, DingTalk is chasing a target group that already includes many Alibaba clients. This fits with its broader enterprise strategy, including the Alibaba Cloud Computing business, which also serves Alibaba's merchants as well as other companies.

"DingTalk is a versatile mobile communications app that fills a gap in the market for corporate mobile messaging," the Alibaba spokeswoman said.

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