Alibaba Dances the Tango


Tango is a partner dance where friends get up close and intimate. California-based Tango uses the by-line ‘free calls and messages anywhere in the world’ and makes money with social downloads and games. It jumped into bed with Alibaba and Wal-Mart recently, and Tangoplans to connect its users to both ecommerce giants’ shopping pages via its messaging app.

Are the Tango Steps Right Yet?

Quite why its consumers would not prefer to make their purchases directly is not entirely clear. I can only assume Tango customers will get preferential treatment, and Tango will receive its slice.

Ecommerce began by cutting out intermediaries. There are now so many of them – plus couriers – that something will have to give, some place sometime. About the only advantage for customers I can see is they will be able to create and share personalized catalogues with their friends.

Could This Be an Arranged Affair?

To my mind this is the more likely answer. After all, Alibaba did invest $215 million in Tango a year ago and presumably thinks it has the right to take the lead. That said, Tango does hold the draw card that 50% of all ecommerce shopping happens on mobile somewhere. Chi-Chao Chang, vice president of Tango Labs was upbeat when he said, “It’s important for us to enter the mobile commerce space with credible partners.”

How Much Room is There to Tango?

There is quite a lot of ballroom space apparently. CNET reports the hot messaging service has tangoed out from its customary US corner and developed a large presence in the Middle East and ‘parts of Asia’. Clearly it wants to be cute about the latter. If it wants to be more than a mobile messaging service it is clearly time for it to ask the band to strike up and play. With Alibaba going global this was the right time for Tango to choose a partner.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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