Big In China, Tencent Debuts International Version Of Its Popular IM Client, QQi

Exclusive – QQ is breath-takingly huge in China. A product of Internet juggernaut Tencent, the household instant messaging client boasts some 600 million active users in total – roughly 90 percent of China’s Internet population – of which about 120 million concurrent users access the service on any given day.

Today, the company is launching a full-fledged instant messaging client for international usage dubbed QQi version 1.0, in an effort to broaden its scope even more (download it here).

In addition, the company plans to launch a multi-language social networking service in early 2011, TechCrunch has learned.

So with all the Windows Live Messengers, Skypes, AIMs, Yahoo Messengers, Facebook Chats and whatnot, why would the world need another IM client to communicate with each other? It doesn’t, but QQ has something different to offer: access to its vast user base in China.

An international version of the product has actually been available in beta since earlier this year, targeting mostly expats living in China. Already, some 2 million people use the French, Japanese or English-language version of the service, with more signing up every day.

The service is entirely free of charge, devoid of ads and available for Windows PCs. ‘Light’ versions of QQi with stripped-down functionality are also available for Mac and iOS devices.

By launching an multi-language version of QQ, its most successful product by far, Tencent says it aims to offer a bridge for any non-Chinese user to connect with the existing 600 million active Chinese-language accounts, whether it’d be their friends or business relations.

Apart from its core IM functionality, QQi offers its users a variety of free apps to explore anything China-centric, ranging from job opportunities, news or language learning tools, to events, travel deals, directories, videos, and more.

The service has already partnered with a host of local partners, such as the travel portal and local news paper

QQi product manager Marc Violo tells me Tencent intends to integrate more third-party apps and establish more, deeper partnerships with both local and global players in the future.

The IM client will also be made available in more languages down the line.

Details are still thin on the international social networking service Tencent plans to debut, but we should have more information available in the first few months of next year.

敬请期待 (Stay tuned).