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Tencent’s WeChat messaging app is so popular that it has more users than there are smartphones in China. (Some people have multiple accounts, and some users are outside the country.) That’s because the app is far more than just a social media platform. Users can hail a taxi, look up a restaurant review, make a reservation, and pay for dinner, without ever leaving WeChat. The same goes for QQ, Tencent’s other messaging app, which has 877 million users.
Besides generating advertiser and service fee revenue, this huge user base plays another crucial role: It drives traffic to Tencent’s mobile games, which dominate the Chinese market. Last spring, the company's Honor of Kings was the top-grossing mobile game in Android app stores in China for the first three months after its release. As Tencent expands its gaming reach even further—in 2016 it led a consortium to buy the Finnish gaming giant Supercell for $8.6 billion—it is starting to create TV and movie franchises based on its titles, as well as other intellectual property, including WeChat emoticons. Along with Alibaba, Tencent is one of the two most valuable companies in Asia.