QQ or 360 - Tencent requires QQ users uninstall 360


China Economy  Updated:Wed, Nov 3, 2010 20:42 PM   By Bernd Chang


Tencent QQ,Qihoo 360

When you read this mail we have already made a difficult decision. Before 360 stops disturbing and intentionally vilifying QQ, we decide to stop running QQ on all computers that are installed with 360 security software. We apponogize sincerely to you for the inconvenience caused to you by this decision. And we also list the reasons below and ask for your understanding and support. 

The war between QQ and Qihoo 360 escalated. QQ requires its users choose between it and 360.

Shenzhen, November 3rd, 2010 - The war between Tencent QQ (0700.HK), the No. 1 internet software provider of China, and Qihoo 360 Technology Inc., a popular security software company, escalated.

Tencent today announced that QQ software will no longer operate on computers installed with software from Chinese online security software developer Qihoo 360. Tencent said it made the decision in light of what it claims is Qihoo 360's unceasing acts of hacking, IPR infringement and defamation.

Tencent said the decision was due to two factors: first, Tencent alleges that Qihoo 360 has coerced users into installing its anti-QQ security software "360 Koukou Guard." This software hijacks QQ Instant Messenger's security module, interfering with QQ's functionality and leaving QQ account information unsecured. Second, Tencent alleges that Qihoo 360 has repeatedly made unscrupulous claims that QQ infringes on user privacy, defaming QQ's security reputation. Tencent has submitted the source code for QQ's security module to a third-party institution for inspection.

A Tencent spokesperson told Sina Tech that QQ users will continue to receive messages on the matter and must choose between Tencent and Qihoo 360. Both free and premium QQ users will be affected; premium QQ members who do not follow the contract requirement will no longer be eligible for QQ services and will receive financial compensation according to relevant regulations, though Tencent said it currently has no detailed timetable for such actions.

360 immediately fought back and issued a statement that 360 would take measures as soon as possible to ensure that users could use 360 and QQ simultaneously. And 360 published an open letter asking for help and calling Chinese netizens to stop using QQ for three days as a means to protest against hegemony of Tencent QQ.

Recently, two of China’s most successful .com companies take their long grudge towards each other to the public. One party is Tencent, whose instant messenger QQ enjoys 612.5 million active users. With such huge scale of user base and the convenient client software that come along, Tencent stretches into online game, news, e-commerce, e-mail, audio-visual etc. and crowns in most territories. The other party is 360, an Internet security service provider whose “360 safeguard” came to be China’s No.1 security software within the first year after launch, covering no less than 75% of China Internet users and thus becoming the second most popular desktop client software. Also capitalize on its 300 million clients base, 360 develops free anti-virus software, browser etc. and achieves success as well.

As Zhou Hongyi (周鸿祎) the founder of 360 puts it, Tencent and 360 are not competitors. So why is Tencent suing 360 for unfair competition and both calling names through desktop pop-ups?

Oct 11th, 360 released China’s first “privacy protection white paper” to account for its recent new software “360 privacy protector”. 4 hours later, Tencent declared in the name of “QQ product team” that 360 was discrediting QQ, and unprecedentedly push the message to its 100 million online QQ users through pop-outs. The fight leads to Tencent prosecuting 360 in form for unfair competition. In turn, 360 released 3 comments on the lawsuit, saying will begin countercharge Tencent for defaming 360 with pornography connection and blocking the downloading page of “360 privacy protector”.


Tracing a few years back, people can see how one thing leads to another, and come to understand what the fuss is all about.

In late 2006, Tencent launched QQ Doctor 1.0, a small anti-Trojan tool to protect QQ user account. But as 360 grows into the country’s second popular desktop client, Tencent smells threat.

Jan 21st, 2010, QQ Doctor 3.2 launched with an interface that assembles 360 safeguard. Meanwhile, it was giving out half-year free trial of Norton Anti-Virus. According to 360, QQ Doctor forced its way into approximately 100 million computers overnight, market share skyrocketed to 40% during the Spring Festival.

360 was sensitive enough to call back some of its employees on Spring Festival off to counter QQ’s sudden challenge. Soon, 360 Safeguard users was reminded that “the debug plugin installing by QQ Doctor bears danger, stopping installation is recommended.”

Due to 360’s quick reaction and QQ Doctor’s premature launch, many people uninstalled QQ Doctor, making its market share drop below 10%.

May 25th, 2010, founder of 360 Zhou Hongyi wrote over 40 posts on his own Netease Weibo (tweeter), telling the bitter story between 360 and Kingsoft (another anti-virus software). Pissed Kingsoft sued 360 who in turn crossed action. And ranting goes on and on between the two. Seeing the two fighting, Tencent captured the opportunity to secretly upgrade its QQ Doctor to 4.0 and switched its name to QQ Computer Keeper, which added all of 360’s popular functions such as cloud anti-Trojan, plugin clearer etc. The user experience it created was almost the same as that by 360.

During the mid-autumn festival break in September, many QQ users noticed that their QQ Software Manager and QQ Doctor were upgraded to QQ Computer Keeper without any reminder. Though there is no solid data to tell exactly how many installation/upgrade, the act is said to raise the market share of QQ Computer Keeper in scale.

Covering 360 Safeguard’s main functions such as security protection, system maintenance and software management etc., and with QQ’s unbeatable user base, the upgraded QQ Computer Keeper is believed to pose direct threat to 360’s survival in the field of Internet Security.

Again, sensitive 360 reacted immediately. On Sept 27th, 360 launched its Privacy Protector to go face to face against QQ by reminding users that “some” chatting software was spying on client system’s private files and data without consent. The Privacy Protector also claimed that it can monitor and expose such unethical behavior of QQ.

Full war broke out:

And that is how the war breaks out. 360 brings the issue of privacy to the public and successful triggers netizen’s concerns and panic about QQ client software. According to an online survey conducted by Netease, 60% out of 3140 netizens choose to uninstall QQ software first when QQ and 360 have conflicts living on their desktop. (The poll starts from Sept 27 till now.)

The war between 360 and Tencent QQ actually reflects the fierce competition to conquer user desktop. Tencent has 600 million loyal users, it wants to finish 360 through packaged installation; whereas 360 holds its “security” shield to undermine QQ’s loyalty base by using user’s fear.

Now Tencent force users to choose one of them: QQ or 360, no other choice. Chinese users will find it very difficult to make decision. Who will win the war, is still to be seen.

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