AliBaba, the Chinese eCommerce giant has launched a social business communications service called DingTalk in Beta (Translation required) bringing back memories of what eBay hoped to and failed to do with Skype. The dream back when Skype was acquired by the online marketplace pioneer was to connect the business to business ecosystem that powered it and the customers who shop. That's exactly what AliBaba is trying to do today with DingTalk.
The Chinese market is rapidly expanding, and today, DingTalk is only available in Mandarin. But already AliBaba is claiming their multiple ecommerce platforms have 8.5 million users, so they could have a running start with users and the key features that delivers Over The Top services that bypass the telcos just like Skype:
- Free messaging
- Free multi-party calling
- A business contacts directory that links the eco-system and customers
- Message Read/Unread status
DingTalk, designed to be a mobile service first, offers voice communications, messaging and team collaboration and already has a downloadable app for Macs and mobile apps in the Apple iOS App store and Android Play Store.
Ironically, there's another wrinkle with DingTalk. It's the fact that Apple has allowed a BETA service app in the App Store. Perhaps something got lost in translation (Apple techs only use Safari not Chrome which auto translates) or Apple has softened their stance on allowing Beta services in the App Store now.
A bit of Deja Vu
Long before Skype became part of Microsoft, it was acquired by eBay because then CEO Meg Whitman (now at H-P) and her team thought that Skype would be a great way to connect those buyers and sellers together too. Unfortunately, that wasn't what eBay's ecosystem wanted, or maybe Meg and her team were just too early, as today we're seeing a shift in how buyers and sellers interact with services like Amazon's MayDay. and WebRTC.