Amid a sharp increase in the popularity of video calls, one of Russia’s top IT companies, Mail.ru Group, has decided to relaunch and rebrand its ICQ messenger with a focus on group communication, Kommersant reports.
The company has been running the messenger since 2010, and since 2017 it has also developed the TamTam messenger, but both are inferior to WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram in terms of audience in Russia. Experts told the business newspaper that the time for the relaunch is perfect, but it is unlikely that the updated ICQ will become a significant source of revenue.
Mail.ru Group developed the ICQ New messenger based on the original ICQ, the company told Kommersant. It has been available in application stores since April 6 and is installed by updating the existing messenger. ICQ New is supplemented by artificial intelligence technologies that are used for quick answers based on context, and will be able to automatically decrypt voice messages, and will focus on group communication, the company noted.
Mail.ru Group, with a total monthly audience of over 80 million users, has an inexpensive channel for attracting an audience to its new ICQ, Alexey Garyunov, managing partner at FinSight Ventures, told Kommersant.
“The company chose the right time for the move. Telegram is facing a lawsuit in the United States due to plans to release cryptocurrency and audiences have a growing need for video and voice conferences amid the pandemic,” he said.
However, it will not be easy to compete with industry leaders globally, in particular in the Russian market for ICQ New, a source in the communications services market told the newspaper. It may have a chance if the company decides to make ICQ a messenger for a niche audience, the source believes.