Launched in January 2017, WeChat Mini-Program (WMP) has definitely attracted a lot of attentions. The highest penetrations come from mobile payment and online video categories.
WeChat Mini-Program has high penetrations in mobile payment, online videos, maps and navigation, e-commerce, online music, group buying, and Weibo according to data from QuestMobile.
Its daily active users growth is much faster since the last week of March 2017. QuestMobile’s research shows increased number of apps used and WeChat Pay usage frequency after using WMP. But, it might be too early to link that to the use of Min-Programs.
However, the growth looks reasonable since WeChat team launched a series of new policies since last week of March to boost the adoption of its Mini-Program including:
- Opening up the application of this mini-apps to individual developers
- Allowing WeChat Mini-Program to be launched from the menu of WeChat Official Accounts
- Allowing the launch Mini-Program from the regular / existing 2D code
- Supporting third-party platforms to develop and manage Mini-Programs (good news for agencies)
- Providing new data APIs on users’ visit trend, geo-location, retentions, and page stats
- Increasing Mini-Program size from 1M to 2M
- Enabling each Official Account to be linked to 3 mini-programs of different parties or 10 programs by the same developer; each mini-program can also link up to 3 official accounts
- Allowing adding mini-programs in the main content of WeChat Official Account articles
- Allowing the same name as the Official Account
- Upgrading the retail management feature of Official Accounts to Mini-Program
Huge Potential in Retail
Migrating the retail store feature of an Official Account to a mini-program doesn’t at the moment offer too much additional values. Instead of sitting on a menu item of one WeChat Official Account, it is now under Mini-Program.
However, since the retail store mini-program does not require coding capability, it could potentially be adopted by a large number of small retailers who can’t afford to develop their own light-weight retail WeChat Mini-Program.
The question now is, what is Tencent’s next move for this? Adding valuable features will no doubt make it more attractive to retailers which can further push the mini-program adoptions to an exponential growth.
A threat to Apple or the mobile app ecosystem?
WeChat Mini-Program is introduced as a lightweight app on top of WeChat infrastructure. Users don’t need to download, install, or register to run the applications programmed inside the Mini-Program framework. In comparison, a mobile app can be designed with complex features and functions.
The size of each mini-program is restricted to 2M while the average file size is 38MB for iOS mobile apps and 15MB for Android mobile apps.
At the moment, WeChat Mini-Program does not look like a serious threat to Apple; but, it potentially can be. Tencent must be very carefully on how they expand the functions and features, especially those involving monetary transactions. The existence of WeChat app, mother of all mini-programs, depends on Apple’s iOS ecosystem.
Mini-Programs could be good news for some mobile apps who are NOT well known or attractive enough. Some of the top reasons Chinese mobile users don’t install certain mobile apps include the concern of limited smartphone storage and the inconvenience and data cost of downloading and installation.
WeChat Mini-Program very likely has a higher adoption rate than a mobile app with the same function. For companies promoting a new app could take advantage of this such as developing a lighter version with a key feature of the mobile app as a strategic first step for user acquisitions.