When we first wrote about WeChat as one of the interesting alternatives to WhatsApp, we didn't know that elsewhere in Asia, it was emerging as one of the fastest growing apps. Well, it's a Chinese company that develops WeChat so obviously the growth and adoption is going to be huge. But the rate at which WeChat has grown and the way in which they've marketed is nothing short of a mind-blowing success story.
WeChat just crossed the 50 million mark in registered users. And notably, that's in a very short period of time. Besides the fact that the app does look good and club a lot of interesting features, the marketing department needs a pat on the back. Roping in some of the popular celebrities in each country, their advertisements literally added a turbo-boost to WeChat's efforts to penetrate markets where WhatsApp has been ruling the roost.
WeChat is now one of the most-downloaded apps in countries like India, Malaysia, Philippines and Mexico. On the UAE App Store alone, WeChat recorded a 200% increase in downloads within a month of its release.
At its core, WeChat doesn't bring anything new to the table. But it does one thing better than any other known app out there: it clubs features from several apps that results in a unified experience. While WeChat doesn't explicitly mention it, the app certainly looks like it's set to destabilize the market for other apps like WhatsApp.
Although a lot of people take it to be just another chat app on the App Store, WeChat seems to be quite intent on making itself known as well as WhatsApp.
The WeChat features speak for themselves:
- You can send audio messages
- Live conversations – a new feature that mimics the walkie-talkie thing
- You can send special emoticons (something more populous than any other app out there)
- Group chat (a feature that's consistently highlighted in their marketing material) and,
- There's ample integration with your social accounts.
Running from mainland China, it's an amazing feat that WeChat continues to grow its user-base so fast despite several censorship rules that the government enforces on the online/software companies in the country.
The app is free for iPhone users. It works pretty much the same way as WhatsApp – only, there are more features here, so you can reach your friends and chat with them in more ways. Also, features like Web WeChat, QR Code-filled profiles, special animated emoticons, and video calling make the whole experience somewhat richer.