In a world where many of us rely on platforms like Facebook, Google, and YouTube on a daily basis. It’s hard for us to imagine life without them. If there is one thing Mark Zuckerberg wishes he could create, it’s WeChat — China’s super app, which has changed the way people use their phones, and disrupted the social media industry.
However, in China, a country once known for its cheap knock-offs and imitation products, this is the reality. The economic and social changes after the Mao era led to a huge proportion of the country’s younger generation. So that, the political elite and worried about what the future may hold for them.
Questions about the legitimacy of the ruling party rumored corruption amongst high ranking bureaucrats and unrest surrounding. Many trouble come up such as grew a burgeoning economy, strong infrastructure and investment in technological and scientific,…
As the result, China is a global superpower. It has allowed the country to forge its own path in terms of technology, a path appearing to be absent of the platforms. For example, we’ve come to take for granted, such as Google, Twitter, and eBay.
But it’s not completely absent from them. Instead, China is taking a technological path that looks very similar but is built very differently.
Copycat app to Super app
The Chinese government attempted to shield its citizens from the western world. There was no hiding the emergence and increasing importance of platforms such as WhatsApp, PayPal, and Uber, amongst many others.
Other problem is the western world have laws and regulations around privacy and data protection that simply don’t exist in China. The government would be largely unable to monitor everything. So that, these kinds of developed just wouldn’t work in China.
The solution? Create ‘copycat apps’ that are incredibly similar to their western counterparts but approved and monitored by the Chinese government. For Google, there’s Baidu. YouTube – Youku. Twitter – Sina Weibo. And the list goes on.
Huge data on the internet have been blocked by ‘The Great Firewall’. Even when an ever-growing number of imitation websites, the Chinese Government still can control citizens’ access to the internet.
As these copycat apps appear, app developers from Sydney to Stockholm dismissed them as state-run ‘puppet apps’. Some apps made thing, however, started to turn heads amongst the Silicon Valley hierarchy.
The once derided Chinese apps were being seen as a glimpse of the future. They were starting to shed the moniker of the ‘copycat app’. But most importantly, one of them was becoming the world’s first ‘Super-App’.
A numbers game
WeChat is quickly becoming one of the most popular all in one platforms, not just in China, but in the world. Released in 2011 by Chinese internet giant Tencent, with nearly 800 million active monthly users, its user base has grown consistently in every single quarter to date.
Put into perspective, the population of China, at the time of writing, is 1.38 billion. That’s 60 active monthly users for every 100 people. Compared to its most notable rival, WhatsApp, the market penetration of WeChat is incredible.
The app currently boasts average market usage figures of around 64% compared to WhatsApp’s 34% market penetration worldwide.
But to those of us more familiar with its western super apps. It’s not the figures surrounding WeChat’s usage that are interesting. It’s the actual embodiment of the app.
It’s safe to say that the most ardent of technophiles will probably have at least 100 apps on their smartphones. Off the bat, WeChat lets users do everything you’d expect it to. Instant messaging, sharing life events and chatting to family members. But its feature list extends far beyond custom emojis and profile pictures.
WeChat allows to catch up friend, order food from a restaurant, book a taxi, get directions. Not all of that, this Tencent’s super app can pay for the meal, send your friend money and check movie times, … All without hitting the home button.
On the surface, this sounds amazing, at least for the user. Not only being able to use one platform to complete various different tasks throughout the day time, WeChat also makes using your phone that little bit easier.
All in one experience
This all in one experience provides a solution to the inevitable ‘curse of the forgotten password’.
With all easy to use features, WeChat is actually one of the world’s most comprehensive and intelligent data-gathering tools. And yep, you’ve guessed it – this is a marketer’s dream.
The possibilities for brand-to-consumer engagement on WeChat are almost unparalleled anywhere else in the world. And this is almost due to the way in as many aspects of daily life as possible.
By knowing person’s current location, this all in one app can accurately reach target consumers when they’re most inclined to purchase.
Moreover, using data’s users payments, marketers can get a good idea of when, where, how and why users spend. Using this hyper-accurately target audience, developers can find they’re most likely to buy.
Whilst this would be an issue for many privacy-conscious consumers, another aspect of the app might provide more cause for concern.
Whereas WhatsApp maintains a relatively strong stance, WeChat also under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government, goes a step further.
Despite these concerns, what shouldn’t be overlooked is the technological power has made a super-app such as WeChat. Imagine if in the hands of a western audience and the future looks very exciting indeed.
David Kiriakidis, (2019, 31st Jan), The Chinese ‘Super App’ Changing the face of Tech