For questions such as “what is 360”, “what is QQ”, please consult Wikipedia or Google. As to the war, it refers to an epic event featuring one 600-million-user company fighting a 300-million-user one, hurling users as canon balls. For details please Google.

The war has lasted for less than a week yet is already showing signs of splitting the internet industry of China into three factions: Tencent gang, 360 bunch, and everyone else.

So far featured in Tencent gang:

Baidu: China’s dominant search engine provider, named an ally by Tencent at the very start of the war. However, up to this moment Baidu has done absolutely nothing visible to help. This is probably because it has nothing to do with either side the first place. If anything, it had faced a challenge from Tencent (weapon: Sousou Search) on the search engine battle ground, and crushed the challenger single-handed. Curiously how it ended up being named a Tencent-friend without any protesting.

Kingsoft: One of China’s oldest software companies with products spreading across productivity, anti-virus, dictionary/translation, offline and online games. Kingsoft has been staying generally silent until today, after the legendary night of November 3rd 2010 (GMT +8) when 360 appeared to be on its knees, did it make a real move. This morning Kingsoft announced its anti-virus product free for a full year, trying to gain some ground from 360’s 300 million followers.

KeNiu: A start-up anti-virus company whose founder is an ex-360 staff. You know 360 and KeNiu won’t get along with each other by nature. KeNiu has always been sitting here and helping Tencent with nothing more than curses. It announced an upcoming product “360 patrol”, which once installed will uninstall 360’s app that was blocking much of Tencent QQ’s functions. However this product never materialized or has never been picked up. Nothing more came from the boy’s side. It’s too tiny to be of any real usage anyway. KeNiu is rather smart. A tiny grain gained in this war may mean a lot to it, but it can’t afford to lose anything.

Meanwhile, on 360’s side…

NetEase: One of the largest and oldest portal websites in China. NetEase made a con-QQ feature page on its tech portal. This doesn’t exactly put it on 360’s side but hey, that’s the ONLY portal site that so far have shown any pro or con in the mess. Let’s just put it into the 360 bunch or else the guy is practically fighting on his own.

Shanda: Top online games provider of China. It’s now putting up a notification in its flagship game that reminds subscibers “shut down QQ before you log into the game in case it steals your password, well, according to 360”. Back in years when leisure games (chess, poker, etc) was on the rise, Shanda acquired such a company Haofang to fight the then-leader Lianzhong. Tencent jumped in with QQ Games and, thanks to its millions of users, kicked the two of them to the edge of oblivion in terms of months. Besides, Tencent now is also running more serious MMO games. Shanda could gain seriously something from Tencent’s defeat, if it ever happens.

And some people who should have got involved but actually wasn’t…

Microsoft. This is probably the only force that has every reason to get into the war and gain from the loss of either side. Firstly Windows Live Messenger (previously MSN Messenger) is the second most popular IM service in China. Yes it’s beaten by lightyears by QQ but still the 2nd. Secondly its Microsoft Security Essentials has been proved to be as powerful as Kaspersky but doesn’t cost a you dime, where 360, not really a security suite, boasts “free” as the No.1 attraction. The installation of MSE also requires a genuine copy of Windows. If the anti-virus app spreads, Microsoft will no doubt make an extra push down its never ending anti-piracy campaign in this piracyland. But for some reason Microsoft didn’t make as much as a comment on the poop war.

And the guy secretly working behind the scene…

Sina: One of the biggest portal website. Actually, like many other companies, Sina didn’t take any side in this war. Through an insider I’ve heard that they worked the team almost through the epic night, not only updating website about war progress, but feverishly pushing its product Sina UC, which is an IM service with history almost as long as QQ’s. With all respects and frankness, UC was, is, and will always be a lackluster in terms of features, functions, and even the look. The few Sina employee I know all expressed disappointment about their own IM abomination. The feverish push won’t likely get any payback, but at least there’s someone working hard right?

And they guys who didn’t take the bait…

Almost everyone else who have made a name in China’s internet business. Tencent published a series of articles bullying them “if you guys don’t join me, someday 360 will be trying to kill you!” These may vary in size, topped by the God-like Alibaba, all the way down to NetQin (small phone anti-virus app maker). Funny enough, despite Tencent poured several hundreds of exclamation marks into those articles, none of them got aboard.

QQ is practically the emperor of China’s IT industry. It has always been taking a cautious approach by copying and (sometimes) improving others’ hot services, integrate them into the QQ IM, and watch its hundreds of millions of faithful IM users make the new business grow. To a certain degree, QQ IM is the one single pillar of the gigantic empire. At the unlikely event of Tencent’s death (or being severely wounded), the entire internet business of China will take a series of ground-breaking changes, which may run across blogs, microblogs, online games, social games, instant messaging, virtual currency, etc. Those with exception of e-commerce and search engine, which have always been ruled by Alibaba and Baidu respectively.

As a wicked bastard who always enjoys sitting high up and watching poop hitting the fan, I’m truly hoping more forces out there could take the chance and let the chaos burn even further. Right now 360 seems to be crawling in defeat, but it may just be buying some time for its rumored IM service “360 Safe Chatter”, a warhead that aimed at QQ’s homeground.

In awe and fun we behold.

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