Caixin
Mar 22, 2018 07:16 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Phone-Makers Unveil App to Ape WeChat

Ten Chinese smartphone-makers have vowed to jointly create the multifunctional “Quick App” to challenge the growing dominance of WeChat, China’s largest social media platform. Photo: VCG
Ten Chinese smartphone-makers have vowed to jointly create the multifunctional “Quick App” to challenge the growing dominance of WeChat, China’s largest social media platform. Photo: VCG

Ten Chinese smartphone-makers have vowed to join forces to create the multifunctional “Quick App” to challenge the growing dominance of WeChat, China’s largest social media platform.

The alliance was announced on Tuesday in Beijing. Its members include Xiaomi Inc., Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Lenovo Group Ltd., ZTE Corp., Gionee Communication Equipment Co. Ltd., and Vivo Communication Technology Co. Ltd.

Quick App will act as a platform for app developers to offer services to users, without those users having to download each individual app — much like the “mini-programs” on WeChat.

“All vendors will open up their own technological platforms, including app stores, browsers, mobile desktop search engines and intelligent push notifications, in order to create a single ecosystem to launch Quick App,” the companies said in a joint statement.

In its description of the planned functions of Quick App, the statement specifically mentioned online payment, data services and account syncing.

Around 1 billion handsets made by these 10 companies are currently in use in China, offering them a huge user base to which they can promote Quick App, the statement said.

WeChat has evolved from an instant messaging app into a mobile payment giant in recent years. WeChat introduced a new feature called “mini-programs” last year that allows users to do things like order takeout from Ele.me, hail cabs from Didi Chuxing and book flights on Ctrip without the need to download these companies’ specific apps. WeChat is said to take a share of the earnings from such services.

WeChat’s monthly active users exceeded 1 billion after the Chinese New Year in February, up from 980 million in September, app developer Tencent Holdings Ltd. said Wednesday when it released its 2017 financial results.

According to a report by Zhongtai Securities, there were 580,000 “mini-programs” operating on WeChat as of January, involving 10 million developers and boasting 170 million daily active users. WeChat projects the number of mini-programs will soar to 3 million by the end of this year.

“The handset market in China is facing some headwinds due to saturation. Phone-makers have to find new ways to make a profit,” Wang Yanhui, secretary-general of the industry association Mobile China Alliance, told the National Business Daily. “Quick App may be a new lifeline for them.”

Contact reporter Jason Tan (jasontan@caixin.com)

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