An unconfirmed report first featured in Chinese news site China.org.cn and subsequently picked up by CNet, indicates that China Telecom may be planning to launch commercially Vnet Messenger (VIM), its instant messenger software which will handle voice-over-IP telephone calls, file transfers and net meetings, in 2004. VIM is currently undergoing tests.
The story originates from an unidentified China Telecom employee who is supposed to have told China.org.cn that a China Telecom branch office in Guangdong was making considerable financial investments in VIM development. The source's reasoning behind such a move was that VIM was potentially seen as in a means for China telecom to reduce future losses to rivals' instant messenger systems, as losses from China Telecom's traditional telephone services to instant messengers could be directed to China Telecom's own software–VIM.
Consumers are switching from the traditional telephone towards instant messengers for communication, as these messengers become more popular, easier to use and feature-enhanced. In China's instant messenger market, the current leader is China-based Tencent's QQ.