This is originally posted here on April 16, 2015
Around a month ago, Apple has a special event that revealed its latest product, Apple Watch. In the event, there was a short demo of WeChat, an instant messenger that is reported to have “more than 430 million active users” (Browne). It is the first time ever for a Chinese app to be demonstrated in an Apple event and Goldman Sachs even stated that “the cooperation between Apple and Tencent will accelerate the globalization of WeChat and help Apple further consolidate the Chinese market” (Purcher). This is showing that Chinese companies are playing a more and more important role in the global market.
Starting with QQ, Tencent has been a synonym of copycats. Nonetheless, WeChat has been a success that is innovative. Someone would say it is nothing more than Whatsapp, but it is actually much more. It is actually not just a messaging app, but also “a mobile news reading app” (Horwitz). And the smart thing is, all the news all collected like a single folder of users, which means, they will go downgrade if there is no news, and come at the top if there is some news. That is smart because even if there are tons of features, they will not bother the user when they are not helpful. If they have a separate tab for news, it will be much more disturbing.
It is also “a blogging platform” (Horwitz). You can post just like facebook, sharing photos, news and links. Something more interesting is the way WeChat protect privacy. In facebook, comments to a post is public, but comments to a WeChat post will only be seen by mutual friends, which means you cannot see the comments posted by those that are not your friends. That creates a very private environment compared with other blogging platform.
It is also “a mobile wallet” (Horwitz). Alipay has been dominate in China’s online payment for years, but WeChat Wallet takes advantage of its vast active users. One innovation that WeChat had was to provide Red Envelope, which in Chinese tradition is used to send friends with cash in during Spring Festival. So WeChat’s Red Envelope is a digitalized version of this tradition, where you can send money to friends with WeChat Payment in various entertaining ways.
Basically, Tencent is trying to provide a one-stop services with its WeChat. I, as a Chinese, have to say, WeChat is the most frequently used app on my phone. However, since a lot of these features are only available in Chinese, it still has a long way for its globalization. Also, as a result of the censorship in China, WeChat cannot provide news from the websites that are blocked, so there are still some limitations for this innovation. In recent years, it is unfair to say that Tencent is a company that copies, because we can see there are more and more innovations in this company and the market has proved it.
Browne, Andrew. “Alibaba IPO: Innovation Chinese Style.” 16 Sept., 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Purcher, Jack. “Alibaba will Have Alipay Ready for the Apple Watch in April.” ‘Patently Apple‘ Patently Xtra News, 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2015/03/alibaba-will-have-alipay-ready-for-the-apple-watch-in-april.html>.
“5 Ways China’s WeChat Is More Innovative than You Think.” Tech in Asia RSS. 07 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <https://www.techinasia.com/5-ways-wechat-is-innovative/>.