Text by Zi Mo
In 2012, WeChat, a smartphone messaging app developed by Tencent Inc., one of China’s largest internet providers, passed Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) to become the most popular app in the Chinese market.
The Rise of WeChat
In only a couple of years, WeChat lured 300 million users from more than 100 countries by integrating audio, video,photo sharing and social networking, to become one of the most widely used mobile internet apps in the world. Actually, some other instant messaging apps such as MiTalk and iMessage predated WeChat, but they failed to acquire the massive user base of WeChat. “Tencent attracted a tremendous amount of users with its web-based chat software QQ,” explains Hu Yanping, founder of the Data Center of China Internet (DCCI). “Its WeChat is more than just a chatting tool. It can help users build networks of friends like social networking websites. Also, WeChat can access a user’s QQ email and Tencent Weibo account to update their posts. Such convenience is exactly what modern people demand, especially tech-savvy youngsters.”
“From a long-term perspective,” Hu adds, “WeChat will replace QQ to become the flagship of Tencent’s social networking product line. WeChat allows its users to directly import their contact lists from other platforms and build a network of friends.Such a social networking business mode has some of the greatest potential in the mobile network era. It isn’t by accident that WeChat has become such a success.”
Not long ago, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei publicly predicted that WeChat service might eventually become fee-based, shining a spotlight on the battle between independent apps like WeChat and telecommunication carriers.
Whose Cheese WeChat Moves
WeChat has not only changed modes of communication, but also reorganized industrial structures. WeChat allows users to send text and voice messages for free, snatching away revenue sources from mobile carriers.