Chinese Internet giant Tencent recently released version 1.2 of its Weiyun personal cloud storage with a number of tie-ins with the company’s Weibo micro-blogging service and its Weixin group chat service. As each of the products continues to take shape, evidence of the company’s strategy to offer users a full-featured mobile digital lifestyle has also emerged.
Version 1.2, which runs on iPhone, Android and Windows, ties the three together the three platforms to offer an interesting document and file management solution. The service’s main four components include a “wangpan“, or cloud-based storage disk; a photo album that synchronizes across multiple devices; a Wi-Fi hotspot transfer feature and a cross-device clipboard feature.
While the first two may seem like they’ve been done before, the third and fourth features fill two much-needed gaps. Weiyun’s Wi-Fi transfer operates independent of the Internet, allowing users to connect to each other’s phones and share files and photos easily. The clipboard feature allows users to quickly copy text on one device and have it appear on another Weiyun-equipped terminal.
Weiyun might not be the most intriguing service on its own, but when combined with Weixin and Weibo, it could pose a triple-threat to competing products from Sina Weibo and Baidu. Earlier this month, Baidu offered a promotion for its own personal cloud storage solution by handing out 100GB of space during its Baidu World developer conference.
“Wei” (微), which means “Micro” in Chinese, has become the flagship branding for Tencent’s newest line of products. While it’s QQ messaging service and Qzone social network remain successful, Tencent has chosen the the “wei” branding to lead its charge into the mobile Internet. Although its own Weibo microblog has struggled to catch the same momentum as Sina’s offering, Tencent has seen runaway success with its Weixin messaging application, which recently hit 200 million users.
In an interview with The Next Web, Jason Kei, Tencent’s assistant general manager of its Social Network Platform department, explained some of the company’s thinking behind the decision:
“You can tell these three products choose very complimentary directions. Weixin focuses on communications and social networking. Weibo is social media. Weiyun is your personal cloud, and it takes care of your daily needs for the things that need to go between devices. They are actually in quite different dimensions, different axes.”
Weiyun already includes the ability to share files to Weixin and Weibo, but Kei says that the team plans even tighter integration down the line.
“[Currently], interaction is just sharing files to Weixin and Weibo, but that’s just the beginning,” he said. “There will be more possibilities as we discover more scenarios to tie them together.”
The foundation for Weiyun dates as far back as 10 years ago when Tencent first introduced a cloud storage solution. The company also went on to develop a file transfer service that was embedded within QQ. Kei views Wieyun as a consummation of Tencent’s different storage-related technologies that has been scaled to fit mobile.
“We started to rethink the whole strategy and evolved it from a pure storage service to an end-to-end delivery service,” he said, adding that Weiyun doesn’t actually rely only on the cloud. For instance, device-to-device Wi-Fi sharing simply beams files directly instead of transferring data up into the cloud and then pulling it back down.
Weiyun is still in beta, but Tencent has big plans for it. Kei says we can expect “more phone to PC interactions,” as it’s a problem the division is passionate about solving. For instance, Weiyun’s multi-device clipboard functionality came about because Kei and his colleagues needed to send data to each other over Weixin and didn’t have a good solution for getting information across different devices.
For now, Weiyun is only in Chinese, but Kei is open to a global expansion.
“I think the emergence of mobile devices and the apps associated with them are global,” he said. He did, however, note that localization would take more than just translation into English, since people spend their time differently in other localities.
“We are still focused on doing the right thing in China and we definitely will want to serve people worldwide,” he said.
Image Credit: KarinDalziel