CCTV NEWS: 赵克锋:WeChat offers attractive service to foreign users
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CCTV NEWS: 赵克锋:WeChat offers attractive service to foreign users


China's social media application, WeChat or 'WeiXin' now has more than 230 million users - and almost half of them are outside China. That's according to the app's parent company, Tencent. Grace Brown reports on what this might mean for other Chinese Internet companies.Full story >>

For more discussion, we're joined on the phone by Professor Zhao Kefeng from the department of economics at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Q1: The popularity of WeChat, or Weixin, in China, is clear to see. But in other countries, consumers have several alternatives to choose from, like WhatsApp for example. So how and why is WeChat managing to find a niche on the international market?
A1:The attraction of WeChat to foreign users differs for every person but is roughly the same if you are in the following categories:

--if you are a foreign student, most of your student friends from Mainland China and the friends of them will be using WeChat. You could easily exchange class materials and information with them. Many Chinese students do not have a habit of checking email everyday but they do use WeChat every hour.

--if you are a business person, most of your Chinese customers and suppliers will have access to WeChat too. You could  follow their tweets to understand the goods and services they need or supply.

Q2: How much of a threat do you think Yixin will be able to pose to WeChat?
A2:The success of either Yixin or WeChat hinges on the so-called network effect, that is, the more users using the application the more valuable the application is to you. The apparent problem with the initial stage of Yixin is that none of your friends are on the service yet. Although there are significantly much more existing WeChat users than Yixin users, Yixin still poses a significant threat to WeChat because:

--it allows users to send voice or text messages to mobile and fixed-line phones even if the recipients don't have the application installed. This implies that if the friend you want to talk to is in a remote area without WIFI or 3G networks, you could still send messages to your friend using Yixin, even if your friend has not installed Yixin at all.

--in other words, Yixin is not starting from Ground Zero. It is tapping on the sizable networks of existing mobile and fixed-line users. But leaving friends a bunch of voice messages is not that exciting if there is no easy way for them to respond. The key thing to look then is whether the transition of these existing networks is seamless enough so the existing networks can be taken full advantage of.

It will be interesting to see how the competition will unfold in the next two or three months.
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