After weeks of speculations, China Unicom and Tencent yesterday officially announced the launch of the country’s first SIM card customized for Tencent’s popular WeChat service.
The WeChat-Wo card, introduced jointly by the operator’s Guangdong provincial branch and Tencent, is targeting two user groups: low-end users of the 66 yuan ($10.7) or above monthly data plan and student users for the 36 yuan ($5.8)/month school plan, Unicom said in a statement.
Unicom will give each subscriber 300 megabytes of free data a month for services running on WeChat, and extra 200 megabytes during the promotional period. The card will also offer more traffic volume, online top-up services as well as special offerings in areas including chat and games, the operator added.
Lu Yimin, general manager of China Unicom, said the collaboration leverages each company’s respective competitive advantages and resources and is aimed at providing consumers with richer, more convenient and better service.
In future, China Unicom will pursue more in-depth cooperation with internet companies, Lu said.
The card will be available on August 8 and can be pre-ordered via Tencent’s e-commerce site starting from August 5.
The partnership is the first of its kind in China and signals an increasing trend of cellcos cooperating with internet players as a strategy to minimize the revenue disruption caused by OTT services.
Meanwhile, small rival China Telecom is reportedly rolling out a plan that includes 2GB worth of data specifically for WeChat and Sina Weibo.
China Telecom’s subsidiary in Guangdong province will be launching the data plan in August, which will be priced at as low as 6 yuan ($1) per month, to compete against Unicom’s WeChat-Wo card, the Next Websaid.
WeChat currently has over 400 million users, while Sina Weibo has more than 400 million registered users and the service enjoys a large profile in China.