PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) is forging its way further into the digital media business by hooking up with Chinese Internet juggernaut, Tencent Inc., to form a joint venture concentrating on online social communication and networking products.
Hillhouse Capital Management, a China-based asset manager in Asia, has chipped in to the joint venture as well.
Hary Tanoesoedibjo, CEO of MNC, said that the resulting company, PT MNC Tencent, would initially push WeChat, a mobile-based online social networking service. WeChat, downloadable for free from app stores such as Google Play and iTunes, enables users to send voice and text messages, as well as share pictures and locations.
“The launch of WeChat marks the collaboration between Tencent, Hillhouse and MNC Media, the media unit of MNC Group,” Hary said.
He added that MNC had agreed to collaborate with Tencent given that the latter was one of the world’s largest Internet companies based on market capitalization.
Forbes reports that Tencent Holding’s market capitalization equaled US$51.32 billion in 2012.
Besides WeChat, MNC runs Okezone, their news website, and PT Rakuten MNC, an online shopping website formed through a joint venture with Rakuten Inc., a Japanese online shopping company.
“Our strength has long rested on traditional media and satellite television,” Hary said. “But we now must keep pace with the expanding reach of the Internet in the country.”
Mobile devices have become the main gateway to access the Internet, considering the low fixed broadband penetration of 3 percent.
Data from Frost & Sullivan shows that the country has at least 250 million mobile data subscribers and 70 million of those subscribers run on third-generation (3G) networks. Hary said that he expected WeChat to do well given the fondness of Indonesians for mobile-based online social networking and messaging.
Paris-based research company Semiocast reported last year that 24.9 million accounts on Twitter originated from Indonesia, making it the fifth most active country.
“We have achieved 90,000 downloads per day from 30,000 within a few days of airing advertisements for WeChat on television,” Hary said.
Martin Lau, Tencent president, said that users would catch on to WeChat, despite the presence of similar services in the market, given that the product had its own “cool features”.
Free mobile-based messaging applications such as US-based WhatsApp and Korean-based Line, not to mention Facebook and Foursquare, have made headway into Indonesia.