Tencent today announced a suite of new features for businesses to better engage customers through their public WeChat accounts, according to TechNode . One day earlier, Alibaba’s mobile Alipay Wallet released over 60 new APIs for third party developers to build online storefronts, according to the company’s official English-language blog .
WeChat and Weibo are huge in China, each with more than half a billion registered users. But their respective might in messaging and microblogging hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from building niche social networks for all kinds of specific groups of people. China’s netizens have, in turn, flocked to these fun and hyper-focused new apps. They’re not meant to replace WeChat or Weibo – indeed, many of these specialist social apps integrate with the country’s top social networks.
A full year after WeChat rolled out its social gaming platform, the popular messaging app finally has a foreign-made game in its portfolio. Over the weekend, the hotly anticipated WeChat edition of Candy Crush Saga rolled out on Android. An iOS version will likely arrive soon. The WeChat edition Candy Crush Saga can be tied either to the messaging app or to QQ, the IM service that’s also run by Tencent (HKG:0700). At the moment, Candy Crush Saga for WeChat is only available via Tencent’s AppGem app store, and can only be used by those with a special invitation code.
Just over two weeks ago, cab-booking app EasyTaxi started taking orders within the WeChat messaging app. How’s that working out so far? Joon Chan, EasyTaxi’s regional manager and director for Southeast Asia, tells Tech in Asia that 5,000 rides have so far been taken by people who booked in WeChat. Joon describes the WeChat tie-up as a “fantastic partnership.” It’s only available in Singapore at the moment ahead of rolling out across EasyTaxi’s other markets in Asia. To use it, a WeChat user must first search for the EasyTaxi ‘official account’ in the messaging app (called ‘EasyTaxiSGP’).
WeChat receives a fair amount of attention from the English-language press for its grasp on China’s mobile messaging market, its steady forays into ecommerce, and its strategic importance to parent company Tencent. But one of the app’s most overlooked qualities is its role as a hub for online media. News outlets, small businesses, and solo bloggers alike will push posts through their subscription accounts, and the app even features a simple but effective “read it later” feature.
With a newly-minted IPO under its belt, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. announced today that is now taking pre-orders for Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console. As part of an agreement between the companies, JD.com will have the exclusive right to accept pre-orders for Xbox One in China from July 28-30, 2014, through JD.com’s Mobile QQ and WeChat entry points. On July 31, the JD.com website and JD.com’s exhibition booth at the ChinaJoy Expo in Shanghai will also begin taking pre-orders.
WeChat isn’t just used by friends for messaging – in China it’s also used by more than two million bloggers, celebrities, media outlets, small companies, and major brands to reach out to people. Trouble is, WeChat has a huge problem with fake brand accounts. While the best way for a WeChat user to add a brand’s official account is via a QR code – which are plastered over nearly every major store in China – there are still many cases in which a user might search within the app for a certain brand account. That’s when the user will find it’s a disaster zone.
Huawei Technologies is now using Chinese messaging app WeChat as their marketing tool to sell smartphones. The company introduced the marketing strategy during the last week of May when WeChat integrated a virtual shop of JD.com, an online retailer and second-largest e-commerce in China next to Alibaba group. According to JD, its WeChat store have received 550,000 Honor 6 pre-orders from customers. Also, portions of the orders were attributed the sales campaign the company launched before the handset was released on Tuesday.
WeChat, China’s top social network and messaging app today launched the open beta of its advertising platform for official accounts, according to QQ Tech. As we reported earlier when Tencent first started testing the ad service, these WeChat ‘subscription’ accounts are used by brands, small businesses, media, and celebrities to send updates in the form of chat messages. Users can click through these messages to read full posts where the ads appear.
The money transfer option in WeChat is a relatively small step in WeChat’s long march to turn itself from being China’s ubiquitous messaging app into a useful mobile wallet service. It already encompasses online payments, ecommerce, an online personal finance fund, and online taxi ordering. This evolution first started last summer with the introduction of WeChat Payments for the app’s Chinese users.
Global software giant Microsoft Corp claimed its artificial intelligence chatting robot, Xiaobing, has been blocked by WeChat without prior notice, a move described by the American company as a “brutal murder”. The shutdown of Xiaobing accounts came just six days after Microsoft announced that it had reached an exclusive partnership agreement with WeChat for the Siri-like service that allowed WeChat users access to a social assistant.
Just two days after going live, the WeChat-integrated robot made by Microsoft Asia’s Internet Engineering Academy has been blocked by Tencent. The conversational AI project dubbed Xiaobing functioned as an official account that could be invited to chat with both individuals and groups.
About two months after Tencent (HKG: 0700) purchased an 18 percent stake in it, Chinese ecommerce site JD (NASDAQ: JD) has finally been integrated into WeChat (or Weixin, as it’s known domestically), Tencent’s monster messaging app. Technode reports that a new “Shopping” tab appears under the app’s “Discover” page.
Chinese web giant Tencent (HKG:0700) had a blockbuster Q1, according to its new financial report today. Aside from hitting 396 million monthly active users on WeChat, Tencent managed to pull in revenues of RMB 18.4 billion (US$2.95 billion), which is up eight percent over Q4 2013 and up 36 percent from the same time a year ago. Tencent acknowledged that WeChat and its social gaming platform gave a big boost to the company’s important gaming revenues.
Tencent has just revealed its Q1 2014 financials. Before we look at those, it’s worth focusing on WeChat, its hit messaging app. WeChat has now grown to 396 million monthly active users. That’s up from 355 million at the end of 2013, and has more than doubled from 195 million exactly a year ago. Here’s our updated chart: