Tablets and smartphones have conquered Chinese market – this is the truth that nobody doubts. According to 2012 statistics, more than 150 millions of Chinese use devices capable of 3G connections, the growth is breathtakingly fast. Therefore Chinese mobile apps market seems to be the perfect place for investment. Tencent Holding, who developed popular QQ messenger software, is well aware of it – so it came up with WeChat.
WeChat, previously known as Weixin, is a mobile text and voice messaging communication software, similar to WhatsApp frequently used in Western countries. The user can talk with his friends using text messaging, or use Walkie Talkie function to record short voice messages, which can be listened any time. This is not everything: Moments is an embedded personal space, which looks very much like Facebook’s News Feed, it allows the users to publish pictures, statuses and getting into interactions with each other. The Look Around option allows us to find users in our vicinity, while Drift Bottle is a plugin, which allows you to send voice message “to the sea” and wait for whoever “picks it up”.
This software, which was created in 2011, has reached an awe-inspiring number of users (300 million, of which 70 million is non-Chinese). To compare with, there are 250 million active users of WhatsApp. The company plans to expand on Asian markets, it even employed some Bollywood actors as brand ambassadors in India. We may say that WeChat is the first Chinese mobile app successful worldwide. Its development potential is so huge that it has been already noticed by the big corporations, which used it in their marketing campaigns.
For example, Starbucks has launched a successful social media campaign called #naturally awake#. The users were able to send some random emoticons to the official account, and they got a link to the song which reflected their mood in response. Cadillac had organized the photography contest called “Discover Route 66”. Both of those campaigns have employed the key features of WeChat: it is easy to use it, it is easy to get into touch with the particular customer, and it is easy to reach specific audiences.
Version 5.0 of WeChat, which entered the AppleStore recently, has some additional functions, such as the Play Center, which lets you to compare mobile games scores with your friends and mobile payment system, which uses QR codes and bar codes.
The market of mobile applications for Android or iOS is relatively new. The big success may be achieved with small effort. Mobile applications are the perfect platform for data-sharing for users around the world, and their usage is not restricted to ordinary people. As you may know, a lot of Chinese entrepreneurs use QQ in their daily business conversation, in many cases even more often than e-mails. WeChat would rather not substitute QQ, but those two will certainly co-exist also in the Chinese people professional life.
If you are planning the international marketing campaign, don’t forget about vast opportunities offered by WeChat. If you are a software developer though, always remember to localize your apps to Chinese and provide Chinese-language support – it will certainly pay back, maybe even sooner than you think.