Tencent to invest US$158m in smartphone antivirus software
Chinese internet giant Tencent has announced it is setting aside 1 billion yuan (US$158 million) to encourage businesses to develop antivirus software for smartphones, a move that is said to be geared towards blocking rival antivirus firm Qihoo 360 from monopolizing the market.
Tencent founder and CEO Ma Huateng and Qihoo 360 CEO Zhou Hongwei were all smiles and handshakes when they when they bumped into each other at the China Internet Conference, an annual meeting of the Chinese internet community which was founded in 2002.
Ma took a swipe at his rival, however, when he made the announcement regarding the funds, saying, "I strongly oppose anyone who searches and collect users' data secretly through antivirus software while pretending it is for the sake of its users." The remark stirs up old grudges between Tencent and Qihoo that started in 2010.
The antivirus software firm launched a product in September that year, claiming that it would protect user privacy from other software installed on their computers. Users who installed the protective software soon found it affecting Tencent's popular instant messenger QQ. The two companies began accusing each other of sabotaging their software's operations and impugning the reputation of the other.
The dispute did not end until the Chinese government stepped in and forced the two companies to issue a formal apology to customers in November.
Zhou played it cool in response to Ma's remarks and said he welcomed Tencent's move as it will promote the importance of security for the mobile internet, to which Qihoo is also dedicated.
Analysts said Tencent's fund, designed to encourage small and medium enterprises to develop antivirus software for smartphones, aims to prevent the mobile network safety market from being monopolized. China's mobile internet market has grown rapidly this year with its number of users reached 388 billion, accounting for 72.2% of internet users in the country.
Ma underscored the importance of mobile internet security in his speech. He said around 58% of Android applications leak private information, in which 25% of them even sent the information in encrypted code. Some of these activities are normal but users cannot tell if one of them is not, said Ma. Over half of the 200 million photos uploaded on Tencent's social networking services per day are sent through mobile phones.