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After breaking the one billion users, WeChat will usher in the "seven year itch"?

via:博客园     time:2018/3/9 12:20:10     readed:395


At the two sessions of the national science and technology giants, Ma Huateng still had no pressure to grab a headline. During the gathering interview of the NPC delegates, Ma Huateng admitted that during the Spring Festival of last month, WeChat's global user account exceeded one billion.

Subsequently, Tencent officials made some amendments to Ma Huateng's figures. The so-called "one billion user" is, more precisely, "user accounts" rather than individuals.

In other words, as long as a WeChat account is counted by Tencent as user account, even this way, the one billion user account is still a horrible figure, no matter the media shouted: This is the real national mobile application.

Seven years of grinding sword WeChat

In January 21, 2011, WeChat 1 was officially launched on the iOS platform, and three days later, the WeChat version of WeChat was also released.


At the same time, China is still on the eve of the outbreak of the mobile Internet, but it has shown a strong value added momentum. According to data from Analysys think tank, in the fourth quarter of 2010, the scale of China Mobile Internet users reached 288 million, an increase of 18.52%, an increase of 41.48% over the same period last year.

According to the data released by AI research, another research institution, the total scale of China Mobile Internet in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 5 billion 110 million yuan, an increase of 19.8% compared with the same period last year, and the growth rate of the Internet increased by 20.3%.

In the different statistical logic of the two companies, there is a basic understanding.With the increasing number of mobile Internet terminals, the consumption of mobile Internet applications will enter a blowout development. From tool products to content classes, social classes and shopping products, the migration will bring new opportunities for the development of the entire market.

This is the background of the age of WeChat. In the market rumors, the Guangzhou Tencent R & D department general manager Zhang Xiaolong noted in October 2010 a man named Kik IM mobile phone products have been touted in the Apple App store, only two weeks to get 1 million users, write an email to Ma Huateng, Tencent with suggestions into the product, then the story we are very clear, Zhang Xiaolong led the Guangzhou team to quickly complete the QQ mailbox, WeChat development and on-line.

When it comes to making heroes, WeChat is naturally born with a "aristocratic" gene. Backed by the social tree of Tencent, WeChat has the potential massive user base, which is a huge resource advantage that any domestic company can't match. It also brings huge user groups to WeChat's cold start.

The third point, perhaps more important, because WeChat is a "mobile Internet" is not a native application, a function formed by QQ long, compared to the mobile phone QQ, WeChat in the mobile Internet and intelligent mobile phone based on the experience in work can make more innovation. Y Combinator partner (Anu Hariharan) - Anu Halilan had an in-depth analysis of the reasons for the success of WeChat, which refers to how WeChat is "to expand its function from the user's desire, such as WeChat in the circle of friends set:

In its second year of release, WeChat launched a photo sharing feature

From the background of the times, the resource advantages of Tencent to the WeChat team's deep understanding of the mobile Internet and human nature, we have created such a super application in China Mobile Internet.

Released less than two years, in September 2012, the Tencent announced the news of WeChat, the number of users exceeded 200 million, after 2013, WeChat and the Wechat monthly data are to be displayed in Tencent earnings, the comparison of technology and media love fan children finishing QQ and WeChat live data:


Another group of figures came from the Tencent's financial reports:

  • Financial report data of 2013 fiscal year: 355 million;
  • Financial report data of 2014 fiscal year: 500 million;
  • Financial report data of 2015 fiscal year: 697 million;
  • Financial report data of 2016 fiscal year: 889 million;
  • 2017 half year financial report (as of June 30, 2017): 962 million;
  • 2017 in the third quarter of the year (as of September 30, 2017): 980 million;

The evolution of WeChat: operating systems and browsers

Just as Ma Huateng initially judged the value of WeChat's mobile Internet transition in the Tencent: half a ticket. With the instant communication tool, WeChat evolved from the communication between people and people to the communication between people and service, and thus formed another "half ticket".


In the right half of the picture, WeChat's ambition to connect everything is displayed. In this year's WeChat open class, Zhang Xiaolong talked about WeChat's centralization of China, and further talked about his future thinking of WeChat.

WeChat may provide very, very many services. These services are provided by different companies. WeChat is just a place to provide services, and WeChat does not provide these services with a special centralized traffic, but by users. Discover yourself.

The translation of this passage is: WeChat is either a "browser" or an "operating system." WeChat provides the underlying architecture and the upper-level services are developed by third parties.

IT observer Wei Wuhui once wrote that the WeChat is a browser and the applet is a website running on the WeChat browser when the WeChat applet is released:

He (Zhang Xiaolong) decided to stand on the basis of Weixin's huge user base and ultra-high viscosity to make the web come back.

This is a small program.

The applet is a small website.

And WeChat, like a browser.

This analogy is also consistent with the logic of Zhang Xiaolong's consistent emphasis on the small program "Run out of the box." This year Zhang Xiaolong further explained this logic:

This may not have been explained clearly enough in the past year. I actually only said the first half of the sentence. I used to leave. But there are still half sentences and I will be back if I leave.

The essence of running out is that any tool is to help users complete a task, the higher the better the efficiency. When we complete a task, we certainly hope that users can do other things, rather than necessarily consumed in a tool.

Regardless of whether it is a browser or an operating system, WeChat builds an "ecology" that belongs to Tencent. This ecology must be exclusive. For example, WeChat can block all "friends" with the "Shang Fangbao Sword" of the WeChat External Link Content Management Specification. "Behaviour, Taobao, Weibo, and today's headlines were not spared. Even the "Tencent" companies such as Jingdong and Pindo were screened.

However, it is also such a logic setting that the huge traffic of WeChat can't be implemented like the traditional Internet companies to make the traffic become real cash flow. One of the most direct comparisons is social media. In the latest quarterly financial report data, Facebook’s advertising revenue reached US$11.5 billion, while Tencent’s revenue was only RMB 11 billion. Of course, you can say that the number of Facebook users has exceeded 2 billion. However, even if it is halved, its advertising revenue far exceeds Tencent.

Further, in the WeChat evolution logic, WeChat plays a role similar to Windows in the PC industry in the entire ecosystem. Similar to Microsoft's strategy of continuously expanding the installed capacity of Windows, how WeChat can further expand its user base remains the key to the sustainability of WeChat's ecosystem. Take China as an example. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, as of the end of 2017, China’s 4G users are nearly 1 billion, which is in line with the data of the WeChat 10 user accounts. It also illustrates the user’s growth difficulties faced by WeChat at home from another perspective.

In foreign markets, WeChat needs to deal with Facebook applications, such as WhatsApp, Instagram and other applications, compared with these applications, WeChat has no obvious advantages in the core social functions, and WeChat's ecological advantages in China. Can not directly hit different countries and regions. Even Ma Huateng once said frankly in public: "In the market dominated by WhatsApp or Line, WeChat is very challenging to replace them."

Where is the next one billion users?

If you focus on the entire consumer technology industry, the battle for the next one billion users has not stopped.

In the past 2017, there were several representative events: First, today's headlines in 2017 acquired the US short video application Flipagram, music short video platform Musical.ly, and promote the internationalization of vibrato; Second, the intelligence around voice interactions Speakers entered the outbreak. Giants and startup companies in China and China successively laid out their plans. Third, Facebook not only adjusted the news media's weight in NewsFeed, but also created a web version and a mobile application called “Watch”. In the future, users can directly watch videos through this portal, including sports, reality shows, and more.

It seems that the above three events do not seem to be necessarily related to each other. After all, one is the initiative of Chinese startups to go to the sea, one is the card giant's card slot products, and the other is a new feature of social applications across the ocean, but these three initiatives , or actions, all point to one direction: reducing the cost of acquiring users and reducing the consumption of user content and the cost of content production.

More interestingly, these three companies are at the product level.Both gave up text and images, but chose audio and video.

Taking voice interaction as an example, the analysis of more and more voice interactive products and applications in the past few years has been attributed to the experience upgrade based on the deep learning progress. The voice interaction in early years was often due to machine recognition accuracy. Insufficient and fruitless, but in recent years the development of speech recognition, natural language processing has reshaped the possibility of speech interaction and is considered to be the next enthusiasm.

However, from the perspective of users, the significance of voice interaction is to reduce the use threshold. When a user with a low level of education encounters the Internet for the first time, especially the mobile Internet, although the touch screen is a natural interaction, touch screen-based text input is still a threshold, which means that you You need to know the spelling of letters (Pinyin) or the strokes of Chinese characters.

What is more difficult is that in many regions such as China and India, there are almost no conditions related to writing or writing in their living environment. Please note that this is not related to illiteracy, but that these people are in an environment of oral culture. Here, they may be able to read and write some words, but they cannot adapt to the needs of writing culture. In other words, it is absolutely impossible for them to use text chat in WeChat.

At this time, the convenience of voice input has become very obvious. Whether it is a voice message in a social chat application or a voice search in search, this problem is effectively solved. If you live in a first-tier city, you can observe the next rule carefully. The more you call the high-end WeChat group, the less the number of voice messages, and if you go to see elementary school students or relatives, the phenomenon of flying voice messages is very common.—— Please note that there is no contempt for the meaning here, but to start with phenomena, to explore the different media interaction mechanisms in different educational backgrounds and life contexts.

What's the main speaker for voice interaction? Whether it is Amazon's Echo or Alibaba's Lynx X1, the focus of its advertising is on targeting a group of successful middle-class people to use this product in their “luxury house” but one from the consulting agency Verto. After the survey, it was found that in the use of voice-based portal products such as Amazon Alexa (the system behind Echo) and Google Assistant (running on Google Home), the real users are 52-year-old women, who spend 1.5 hours each month. Hours.

Secondly, video is a low-threshold participatory measure. In underdeveloped regions, video demand is very strong. The following chart shows the difference in consumption habits of the Wall Street Journal versus American and Indian netizens:


The Wall Street Journal also described the Internet access requirements of an ordinary Indian named Singh. He is a porter at the New Delhi Railway Station. He earns less than $8 a day. He does not want to read text or use the keyboard to send messages. He even does not Know how to send e-mail, but he is still a heavy user of the mobile phone. He needs to check the train schedule, send messages with his family, and more importantly, he needs to download the movie on his mobile phone.

Unfortunately, these changes in the external world are not shown in WeChat. In the past few years, WeChat's development direction has been to make this social product more and more important, and it has become more and more critical. . Indeed, not all the recent Spring Festival returning home visits will mention that old people in the fourth or even fifth-line areas have learned WeChat, but WeChat's meaning to them is the same as mobile phone text messages and telephone calls. This is not how WeChat is. The closeness to the people or ease of use, but the inevitable result of the reduction in traffic charges, broadband access.

As stated above, under the background of the close saturation of 4G users in China, the growth of WeChat users has basically reached a bottleneck. At this time, if WeChat continues to evolve the evolution logic of "browser" or "operating system", it will inevitably further amplify the contradiction between this simple demand and the supply of complex functions. Perhaps WeChat will not have "seven-year itch". Perhaps WeChat will eventually complete the full coverage of 1.4 billion people, but for a social education school, it is impossible to find the next 1 billion users.

[Titanium Media Author: Zhao race slope, I / O Membership Program Producer]

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