China Computerworld, July 26, 2010
Update: (2010.08.11): China Computerworld has now apologized for the cover:
On the cover of the July 26, 2010 issue of this publication, the illustration and headline language were improper and not up to the standards of fairness and rigor. This publication apologizes for any adverse effects this has had on Tencent.
The current issue of China Computerworld (计算机世界) features a cover story on Tencent, the Internet giant that runs the QQ web portal and Internet messaging software and has its fingers in practically every other sector of the online economy.
The report is written from the perspective of Tencent's competitors in the industry, and it is their exclamation of frustration that provides the feature's title: Fucking Tencent ( ).
Critics quoted in the piece complain about Tencent's lack of creativity: never a first mover, it enters established sectors and muscles out the competition — shamelessly imitating its rivals, according to some accusations:
Tencent is never the first to "eat crab" [to try out new things]. It looks for a space in a mature markets to shove its way in. However, the methods it chooses also invite controversy: imitation, sometimes unscrupulous "shanzhai" copying.
As early as 2006, Sina founder Wang Zhidong openly accused [Tencent founder] Ma Huateng of being the industry's "plagiarism king," and of brazen plagiarism at that. Similar voices have been heard in the years since. Most recently, Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI) director Hu Yanping questioned Tencent's creative abilities, saying that it was not an outstanding innovator, and was actually the mortal enemy of innovation among smaller Internet enterprises.
Beginning with its first product, OICQ (the former incarnation of Tencent QQ), which copied ICQ, Tencent has never been able to bury its "copying gene." First it brought in QQ Show and a line of value-added products from Korea, then it imitated Sina by building a portal website. In online gaming, it copied Ourgame (联众) by developing a platform, and then like Shanda brought in international players, started in-house development (like Netease). Then there was the C2C e-commerce site Paipai, and the third-party payment service TenPay (财付通). Without exception, these were "shanzhai" products, which lies at the root of the hatred for Tencent.
"Microblogs, anti-virus, e-commerce, and now group purchasing: the business models in these sectors are there for the taking, and everyone is copying. How can you say that Tencent should be generous and not try to make money there?" asked Xie Wen, a long-time Internet professional. In an interview with this reporter, he said that the animosity toward Tencent within the industry is like "whining children," and "Fifty paces laughing a hundred paces."
As for the charge of imitation, Ma Huateng's response is: Imitation is the most reliable form of innovation.
As the excerpt suggests, the article itself is much less of a hit-piece than the provocative cover implies. Nevertheless, Tencent felt it necessary to respond to the brutal assassination of its beloved penguin mascot:
Statement by Tencent
On the cover of its July 26, 2010 issue, China Computerworld made a savage attack on Tencent. The Company makes the following statement:
Tencent is a meticulous and responsible company. QQ is a nationally-recognized trademark. For many years, we have striven to provide superior Internet services to the general public and to make the lives of our users richer and more convenient. We welcome commentary from the media on our products, services, and company development.
However, the China Computerworld feature story, without conducting any interviews with Tencent, used crude language against a responsible enterprise and used a disgusting illustration to damage our trademark and corporate image, creating an extremely adverse reaction and rudely hurting the feelings of the vast numbers of ordinary Tencent users. We strongly condemn this action and reserve the right to take legal action to protect our rights.
Update (2010.07.27): China Computerworld has responded with a pledge to continue its independent reporting on the industry.
We believe that controversy and differences of opinion are objective things that neither Tencent nor China Computerworld can avoid. For this reason, we choose to stay true to our duty as part of the media; we choose to stay true to objective questions about the industry; we choose to pull back the curtain and face controversy head-on.
We have noticed that upon its publication, the cover of this issue sparked attention and discussion, with supporters as well as critics. We will listen with an open mind to all opinions and, following our thirty-one-year principle of objective, independent reporting, will strive to provide the public with richer, more worthwhile content.
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