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What is behind the success of WeChat

WeChat is an app that allows you to request a divorce to pay any of your bills. Although it seems unimaginable in China it is already possible to do so thanks to this new app.

WeChat, the most popular instant messaging service in the country, includes a “divorce” function so that you can make an appointment with a local office to register separations, according to the expert in this app, Matthew Brennan.

The application, which launched in May this test mode in the province of Guangdong, does not stop to strengthen its dominance in the country. It closed 2017 with 980 million users and, with the Chinese new year, it became the third app to pass the line of the 1,000 million users, only behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Why is WeChat triumphing so much?

When SMS was very expensive in China

To understand the success of the app you have to go back to its origin, since it was designed with the Asian market in mind. Tencent, a company founded in 1998 by Ma Huateng and Zhang Zhidong which is the main rival of Alibaba, launched the application on January 21, 2011.

At that time, in countries such as the United States, messaging applications had to compete with telephone companies, which offered flat SMS rates. But in China, these types of messages were not so cheap and email did not quite penetrate society, according to The Economist. This made users enthusiastically receive free messaging apps for mobile.

In 2010, Tencent already owned QQ, the computer messaging application with the most users in China before WeChat arrived. The company became aware of the boom of the internet on phones and saw that the user experience on the computer was different from the one he was looking for on the mobile. It was then when he bet on developing a new application thinking about its use in smartphones. Thus WeChat was born, whose original name is Weixin, which literally means “microcard”.

Once this new app was released, Tencent took advantage of QQ’s user base and allowed them to transfer their contacts to the new application, according to the same newspaper. This fact gave WeChat an advantage over the rest of its current competition in China. Within the country, WeChat’s main competitors are Weibo, QQ, Momo, Tantan or Oppo, according to eMarketer.

How has WeChat evolved since its inception?

When Tencent launched the app to the market, seven years ago, it was basically for chatting. But the Chinese company has since added multiple functions to the messaging service. For example, WeChat has teamed up with Ayla Networks and Caesars Entertainment, a company that manages casinos and hotels in the United States, to develop smart rooms to turn on lights, open the blinds or regulate the temperature through the application.

Among its utilities, there is also the design of personal portals as a web page for each user or company, send stickers similar to those that also allow using Facebook or Telegram or put a user who shakes the phone in contact with other people who are shaking the device anywhere in the world at the same time.