China internet users forced to choose in software row

A teenager uses a computer at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, on 26 Sept 2010. China has more than 400m internet users

Related Stories

Hundreds of millions of internet users must choose between China's top internet chat programme and its best selling internet security tool.

They have been told they cannot have both, as a dispute between the two internet giants has escalated.

The dispute has led to allegations of theft, involvement with pornography sites and even "doing evil".

China has the world's biggest - and fastest growing - online population with more than 400m users.

QQ or Qihoo

In one corner of the ring is a company called Tencent. It runs China's most popular instant messaging service, called QQ.

It says it runs more than one billion QQ accounts.

In the other is Qihoo 360, the maker of an antivirus tool that controls 70% of the market with software it gives away for free.

The row started when Tencent encouraged users to download its own antivirus product.

China's internet revolution

  • First web connection set up in 1993
  • 2000: 1m online users
  • 2010: 420m people online
  • 2010: More than 200m bloggers
  • Host of the world's largest networking tool, Tencent's QQ
  • Rapid growth of web forums, chatrooms and bulletin boards

Qihoo 360 responded by accusing Tencent of stealing users' personal information.

Then it got worse. There were allegations that Qihoo 360 was advertising on porn sites, that its software maliciously interfered with users' QQ accounts.

And other companies joined in to denounce the firm. Qihoo 360 responded by accusing them of "jointly doing evil".

Now the gloves are off. Tencent says it is withdrawing its QQ instant messaging service from 300m users of its rival's antivirus software.

Qihoo has responded by advising its customers to switch to other chat providers like MSN.

It says Tencent's move could be disastrous, leading to an unprecedented outbreak of software viruses in China.

Not surprisingly many internet users are furious, complaining the fight between two commercial rivals is now hurting them.

So now everyone is waiting to see what the users will do. Will they dump their antivirus software or their instant messaging account or both?

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Asia-Pacific stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Woman standingMysterious miracle

    It's extremely unusual and shouldn't give false hope, but what makes the body beat cancer on its own?


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach - why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.