Prague - ICQ, a brand that once pioneered the instant messaging sector, aims to regain the dominant position it once had but gradually lost in the growing competition.
After introducing ICQ 7, the latest version of the instant messenger that would serve as a hub that can unite several social networking sites at the same time, the company is going to start its expansion to new markets.
ICQ has approximately 50 millions users located in a handful of countries - Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia and Israel. And ICQ wants to change this. Aktuálně.cz has learned that ICQ wants to have penetrated into two new markets by the end of this year.
Two markets targeted
"We are currently working on getting us into new markets. By the end of this year, we will certainly have two more. There are several possibilities we are currently examining. I cannot tell you the names of the countries in question, but in terms of regions we focus on South America and the Far East," executive director of ICQ Eliav Moshe said to Aktuálně.cz in an exclusive interview.
Moshe admitted that expanding to China is one of the possibilities. However, China is well-known for its internet censorship. "China is a very interesting market. And it surely constitutes a possibility for us. And precisely the approach of the authorities is one of the obstacles we are dealing with, because our priority is to make our services beneficial to the users. But China is not the only market in the Far East we are interested in," Moshe said.
ICQ is already negotiating with potential partners in the markets it has chosen to penetrate into.
"Our strategy is to associate with strong local players, such as Centrum Holdings (Centrum Holdings owns Aktuálně.cz - the editor's note) in the Czech Republic. The negotiations are already in progress, but I cannot tell any details. They are in their very early phase," Moshe said.
In the Czech Republic, ICQ has two million users that send two billion messages every month.