January 10, 2017:WeChat gets ‘Mini Programs’ to challenge apps

Chinese messaging app WeChat has 768 million active users according to its most recent public figure. Now it’s launching a challenge (of sorts) to Apple and Google’s app stores with a new feature called ‘Mini Program’.

The Wall Street Journal described it as “a suite of web apps” designed to run within WeChat, although the company has carefully ensured there is no central ‘app store’ for the programs so as not to incur the competitive wrath of Apple or Google.

“Instead of being in a centralised store, the mini programs are designed to be discovered by users through third parties, for example by scanning a QR code or finding them in a search,” explained the report. “But once WeChat users open one of the features, a ‘Mini Program’ tab appears on the users’ WeChat home screen.”

This isn’t the first time messaging apps have been seen as a new apps platform: this time last year, Facebook’s messaging boss was claiming that “threads are the new apps” – although Facebook Messenger’s strategy on that score is focused on chatbots rather than mini-apps. We’ll be interested to see how WeChat’s mini programs can work for music services and artists, though.

Stuart Dredge
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