Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group began trialling a business-focused mobile messaging app called DingTalk in December, Reuters has reported.
Users can conduct conference calls and group messaging via the app, which is targeted towards small and medium-sized enterprises. With 8.5 million active sellers on its platforms, many such businesses are already Alibaba clients.
Alibaba’s earlier attempt at a messaging app called Laiwang was considered a failure by many experts, while rival Tencent’s WeChat /Weixin has been hugely successful (it had 438 million monthly active users in August last year).
However, by targeting a specific segment, Alibaba hopes to “fill a gap in the market for corporate mobile messaging”, according to a representative.
The company has still not revealed how it expects to generate revenue from the app or when a full launch is planned, as the app is still in beta testing.
Alibaba has been investing heavily in the mobile space: last year, it invested $215 million in mobile messaging app Tango. It previously looked to bolster its share in mapping company AutoNavi and invested in the Sina Weibo microblogging service.