|Developer(s)||Tencent Holdings Limited|
|Stable release||See current releases|
|Preview release||See preview releases|
|Operating system||Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile/CE, Symbian, Java ME, Web App|
|Available in||Chinese, English, French, Japanese|
|Alexa rank||8 (April 2013[update])|
QQ is an abbreviation of Tencent QQ, a popular instant messaging software service developed by Tencent Holdings Limited. QQ also offers a variety of services, including online social games, music, shopping, microblogging, and group and voice chat.
As of 20 March 2013, there are 798.2 million active QQ accounts, with a peak of 176.4 million simultaneous online QQ users.
|QQ Official version 2012||October 22, 2012||Windows XP, Vista, 7|
|QQ 2.1.3||August 13, 2012||Mac OS X Snow Leopard|
|QQ International 1.6||December 6, 2012||Windows XP, Vista, 7|
|QQ2011 1.3||August 30, 2011||iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)|
|QQ 2.1||August 23, 2011||iOS (iPad native)|
|QQ for Pad 1.6||Unknown||Android tablets|
|WebQQ 3.0||May 5, 2011||N/A|
|Version||Release date||Operating system|
|QQ2013 Beta2 (Simplified Chinese)||January 22, 2013||Windows Vista, 7|
|QQ2012 beta (Traditional Chinese)||March 28, 2012||Windows XP, Vista, 7|
|QQ Concept beta 3||July 22, 2010||Windows 7|
|QQ 1.0 beta 1||January 4, 2009||Linux|
|QQ2011 beta 3 build 0115||August 10, 2011||Android phones|
|Tencent Messenger beta 3.3||April 28, 2011||Windows Vista, 7|
After the threat of a trademark infringement lawsuit by the AOL-owned ICQ, the product's name was changed to QQ (with "Q" and "QQ" often used in Chinese to stand-in for the English word "cute"). The software inherited existing functions from ICQ, with additional features such as software skins, people's images, and motions. QQ was first released as a "network paging" real-time communications service. Other, mainly free features were later added, such as chatrooms, games, personal avatars (similar to "Meego" in MSN), online storage, and Internet dating services.
The current preview version of QQ is QQ2011 beta2. Tencent periodically releases special versions of QQ to coincide with events such as the Olympics or Chinese New Year.
The official client runs on Microsoft Windows and a beta public version was launched for Mac OS X version 10.4.9 or newer. Formerly, two web versions, WebQQ (full version) and WebQQ Mini (Lite version), which made use of Ajax, were available. Development, support, and availability of WebQQ Mini, however, have since been discontinued. On 31 July 2008, Tencent released an official client for Linux, but this has not since been kept in step with the Windows version and it is not capable of voice chat.
In response to competition with Windows Live Messenger, Tencent released Tencent Messenger, which is for business people. It also provides, in limited form, features that are only available to premium members in normal QQ.
In 2002, Tencent stopped its free membership registration, requiring all new members to pay a fee, but in 2003, this decision was reversed due to pressure from other instant messaging services such as Windows Live Messenger and Sina UC. Tencent currently offers a premium membership scheme, which offers features such as QQ mobile, ringtone downloads, and SMS sending/receiving. In addition, Tencent offers "Diamond" level memberships. Currently, there are seven diamond services available:
- Red, for the QQ Show service which features the ability to make an avatar for yourself.
- Yellow, for the Qzone service which is similar to a blog.
- Blue, which is for QQ games.
- Purple, which is shared between four Tencent games, QQNana, a Korean dancing game, QQTang, an action game, extremely similar to crazy acrade and Pacman and QQSpeed, a car race game, and R2beat, a roller skating rhythm racing game.
- Pink, for QQ pet, a small desktop game about raising a pet. So far there are 3 generations of pets. Penguin, Pig, and Bear (beta testing).
- Greenish, for QQ music, which is a software for listening to music directly from the Tencent server. Requiring no pre-download, though sometimes consuming a lot of disk space due to caching.
- VIP, for chatting, beta testing, removing advertising, and several additional features
- Black, for benefits related to DNF (Dungeon & Fighter), a multiplayer PC beat 'em up video game. 
The Q coin is a virtual money used by QQ users to "purchase" QQ related items for their avatar and blog. Q coins are obtained either by purchase, one coin for one RMB, or for using the mobile phone service. Due to the popularity of QQ among young Chinese, Q coins are now accepted by gradually more and more online stores and gaming sites in exchange for "real" merchandise such as small gifts, and raised the concern of replacing (and thus "inflating") real currency in these transactions. The People's Bank of China, China's central bank, says it is investigating the possibility of cracking down on Q coin, due to people using Q coins in exchange for real world goods. Tencent claims the Q coin was merely a regular commodity, and thus not a currency.
Coral QQ, a modification of Tencent QQ, is another add on. While Tencent charges for some services and displays advertisement, Coral QQ provides free access to some of the services and blocks Tencent's advertisements. In 2006, Tencent filed a copyright lawsuit against Chen Shoufu (aka Soff), the author of Coral QQ, whose redistributing modified Tencent QQ was ruled illegal. Chen then published his modification as a separate add on. On 16 August 2007, Chen was detained again for allegedly making profits off of his ad-blocking add on. His case is pending at Shenzhen Nanshan district court.
In 2009, QQ began to expand its services internationally, with its IMQQ portal, working with partners throughout Asia and the USA.
In the United States, Tencent has partnered with AOL to bring QQ Games as a contender in the US social gaming market. Launched in 2007, QQ Games comes bundled with the AIM installer, and competes with AOL's own games.com to provide a gaming experience for the AIM user base.
Tencent launched its web-based QQ formally on 15 September 2009, the latest version of which being 3.0. Rather than solely a web-based IM, WebQQ 3.0 functions more like its own operating system, with a desktop in which web applications can be added.
Social network website
In 2009, Tencent launched Xiaoyou (校友, 'schoolmate'), its first social network website, trying to compete with Renren and Kaixin001, the Chinese social networks, mainly for students. In mid-2010, Tencent changed direction and replaced Xiaoyou with Pengyou.com (朋友, 'friends'), trying to establish a more widespread network, to which extant QQ users could be easily redirected, hence giving Pengyou.com a major advantage over its competitors. Open Web QQ at http://web.qq.com
Open source and cross-platform clients
Using reverse engineering, open source communities have come to understand the QQ protocol better and have attempted to implement client core libraries compatible with more user-friendly clients, free of advertisements. Most of these clients are cross-platform, so they are usable on operating systems which the official client does not support. However, these implementations had only a subset of the functions of the official client and therefore were more limited in features. Furthermore, QQ's parent company, Tencent, has over successive versions modified the QQ protocol to the extent that it can no longer be supported by most, and perhaps any, of the third-party implementations that were successful in the past (some of which are listed below). As of 2009, none of the developers of third-party clients have publicized any plans to restore QQ support.
- Pidgin, an open source cross-platform multiprotocol client, with third-party plugin
- Adium, an open source Mac OSX client, with third-party plugin built on top of libqq-pidgin
- Kopete, an open source multiprotocol client designed for KDE
- Note: Kopete, old versions of Pidgin, and any other client whose QQ support is based on libpurple no longer supports QQ as of May 2011
- Miranda IM, an open source multiprotocol client, designed for Microsoft Windows, with MirandaQQ2 plugin.
- There also used to be several public Jabber Transports available. Most of them stopped working due to frequent protocol changes made by Tencent. A service available at Open-QQ.tk, which uses the third-party plugin for Pidgin seems to be the only one working left.
Tencent has taken advantage of the popularity of the QQ brand, and has set up many Q-Gen stores selling QQ branded merchandise such as bags, watches, clothing as well as toy penguins.
- The accounts of QQ are all combined with numbers, the account numbers provided for the registered users are selected randomly by the system user registration. In 1995, the registered QQ accounts had only 5 digits, while currently the digital numbers used for QQ accounts has reached 12. The first QQ number is held by Mr. Ma and his account number is 10001.
- The membership of QQ account normally last for one month. And when this membership is overdue and does not renewals, such membership would be resumed.
- The rule of calculating the age of QQ is that login fully 2 hours within a day would be seen as one real day. Thus login QQ for around 700 hours would make the age of QQ grow 1 year older. From the QQ version 2012, users can see clearly the age of QQ through the personal information.
- In 2004, Tencent launched QQ hierarchy. At very beginning, this hierarchy was calculated with the hour unit and at that time, most users were keeping login the QQ for increasing QQ level. This results in the critic of wasting energy(such as wasting Electrical energy and so on)by a lot of social medias. Thus Tencent changed the level measurement from hour unit to daily unit due to the involvement of the relevant departments.
Controversies and criticisms
Dispute with Qihoo 360
In 2010, Chinese anti-virus company, Qihoo 360, analyzed the QQ protocol and accused QQ of automatically scanning users' computers and of uploading their personal information to QQ's servers without users' consent. In response, Tencent called 360 itself malware and denied users with 360 installed access to some QQ services. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information reprimanded both companies for "improper competition" and ordered them to come to an accord.
Some observers have criticized QQ's compliance in the Chinese government's Internet surveillance and censorship. A 2013 report by Reporters Without Borders specifically mentioned QQ as allowing authorities to monitor online conversations for keywords or phrases and track participants by their user number, as part of their labelling China as an "enemy of the Internet".
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- QQ for Mac
- QQ International Mac download page
- QQ International Windows download page
- QQ2011 at the iOS App Store
- QQ HD for iPad at the iOS App Store
- QQ for Pad
- QQ2013 (Simplified Chinese)
- QQ2012 Traditional Chinese
- QQ Concept
- QQ for Linux
- QQ for Android
- Tencent Messenger
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- (Chinese) Official website
- (Chinese) QQ Portal
- (Chinese) qq
- (English) "Inside QQ" research report by +8* Plus Eight Star
- (English) Learning Chinese Using QQ (English-Chinese QQ Translator)
- (English) English version of QQ
- (English) Tencent's first offering in the United States
- (English) Tencent QQ services overview
- (English) List of official QQ client alternatives