Smart observers have stopped thinking about Chinese tech firms as copycats. Microsoft executive Qi Lu, who oversees Microsoft Office and Skype, recently said he thinks WeChat-maker Tencent is the best product company in the world, not just China.
And it won’t be long before Chinese firms’ back-end services are as advanced as those of their American counterparts. Chinese Internet firms are hitting the same kind of basic, yet deeply important, data center problems as Google and Facebook—such as how to manage clusters of servers to run something like a chat app smoothly—and they’ll be forced to adapt.
Tencent serves as an example. Its WeChat mobile messaging app has 438 million users, not too far behind WhatsApp’s 600 million. And add to that QQ, Tencent’s popular instant messaging service, which has 800 million users and recently hit a new record of 200 million of those users messaging on the product simultaneously.