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24 Apr 2018

Mini Program is Not Mini Anymore

From South China Morning Post Jan 2018
Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest internet company by market value, is on a collision course with Apple and Alphabet with its aggressive push into mini mobile applications, which allow users to bypass traditional app stores and run programs directly within its WeChat application.

Tencent has re-engineered the WeChat messaging app in a way that applications smaller than 10 megabytes can run instantly on WeChat’s interface. It is now offering 580,000 mini programs after just one year of development, compared to the 500,000 mobile apps that Apple’s App Store published from 2008 to 2012, according to Hu Renjie, WeChat’s mini program director.
“The mini program is a brand new product model which can seamlessly link the offline and the online together,” said Hu, adding that the mini program scheme has attracted 1 million developers.
As well as bypassing the need for app stores, mini programs offer speed of access to users because they can be loaded instantly from within WeChat on any operating system.

Tencent’s move to bundle apps within WeChat could hurt Apple and Alphabet as the two US tech giants rely on their own universe of apps to enrich the use of their respective iOS and Android systems.
In a measure of the size of the threat that mini programs present, WeChat already has a user base of 1 billion globally as at January 2018, which is larger than the population of the European Union and Russia combined.
One mini program, the Jump Jump mobile game, attracted 400 million players in China in less than three days after becoming available on WeChat’s homepage, making it the most popular mobile game in the country.
Tencent recently announced that it had more than 170 million monthly users of its mini programs since their launch in January 2017. A number of international brands, including McDonald’s, KFC, Coach and carmaker Tesla, released mini programs for WeChat in the past year, with a Tesla one allowing users to monitor the acceleration rate of their vehicle.

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