China-based WeChat introduced mini apps allowing users to access merchants’ services without having to download their apps from the major app stores.
The launch of “Xiaochengxu”, which translates to “mini programs”, is designed to bypass the app stores run by Apple, Qihoo 360 and Tencent in China.
According to Reuters, Chinese Internet giant Baidu launched a similar platform in 2013 called “Light App”.
Alexis Bonhomme from CuriosityChina, a Beijing-based marketing agency, told Reuters: “The quality of the content will decide if the user will adopt it massively and drop their current app store, which I don’t think they will do.”
Tencent will likely try to monetise the mini programs through in-app ads, hosting, analytics and payment services. The company’s WeChat messaging app is China’s most popular mobile social media platform, with an estimated 770 million users.