Alibaba developing DingTalk, social app for small-medium businesses

If Facebook and LinkedIn weren't enough, China's Alibaba is looking to dip its toe in the enterprise service waters, specifically with a social app for businesses. The world's largest e-commerce company is currently developing DingTalk, which at first sounds like another run-of-the mill messaging app for smartphones, but has specific features meant to appeal to enterprise users. In beta testing since December, DingChat will offer the standard group messaging, as well as conference calls, and the ability to connect with Alibaba's platforms that its customers already use.

Alibaba has already tried and stumbled at releasing its own social based messaging app with Laiwang. The app didn't fare well in China's market, already saturated with messaging offerings, let alone catch on outside the country. The reigning champion in China continues to be Tencent's WeChat, with 468 million active users per month.

While Alibaba's 8.5 million active sellers won't be anywhere enough to make DingTalk a sure success, it might be enough to give the app a stable base to grow from. And the fact that DingTalk is specifically targeted to small and medium businesses that are already on Alibaba means they won't be quick to abandon the service for the next trendy messaging app.

The company has little new information to offer about DingTalk, only saying that it remains in beta, with a spokesperson recently iterating that it will serve as "a versatile mobile communications app that fills a gap in the market for corporate mobile messaging." But with no timeframe given for a final release, or details on how the app will make money, it remains to be seen how Alibaba's offering will differentiate itself from millions of users already have installed on their smartphones.

SOURCE Reuters