China's Internet Industry: WeChat data report unveils a startling change of nationwide habits
Updated 21:45, 12-Jan-2019
As the most influential social and instant messaging app in China, WeChat is holding its fifth annual conference in Guangzhou on Wednesday. A big data report released by the super app unveils the modern life of the Chinese people. Our reporter Ge Yunfei has the story.
Nearly 1.1 billion active users send a total of about 45 billion messages every day. Those were the latest numbers released by China's most popular social media app at its fifth annual conference in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. They also made a quite startling revelation about the country's recent nocturnal habits.
FU FAN, DIRECTOR WECHAT DATA ANALYSIS DEPT. "Another interesting fact we discovered is that last year, our users tended to go to sleep around 11.30 on average -- 90 minutes later than in 2015."
Meanwhile, for the post-80s and post-90s generations, they spent on average about eight minutes on video calls. Each generation also prefers different emojis. While its mobile payment feature has become a crucial part of many user's lives regardless of their age.
BAI ZHENJIE, DIRECTOR WECHAT PAYMENT DEPT. "Online payment has become one of the most important aspects of the internet industry and even the whole economy. As of October 2018, transactions via Wechat Pay had increased by 50 percent from a year ago."
Those numbers are just further evidence of WeChat's success in China. Yet, it's not all good news. Many experts believe its dominance may be coming under pressure from a general change in online habits.
MATTHEW BRENNEN TECH ANALYST "When we're talking about being a threat, it's more in terms of the time spent on mobile shifting more towards Byte Dance's product like Tik Tok. I think that's the trend we've seen in the past two or three years."
GE YUNFEI GUANGZHOU "Facing the popularity of short video apps like Tik Tok, one month ago in its biggest update in four years, WeChat launched a significant feature, called 'Time Capsule'."
The new feature resembles 'Instagram Stories' — where users can post videos that disappear a day later.
Meanwhile, with "Top stories", WeChat also changed the original "like" button in WeChat articles to "recommend", allowing users to find other people with similar mindsets. But it seems it may take some time before they really catch on."
WECHAT USER "I still haven't figured out how to use the new feature of 'recommend'."
WECHAT USER "Time capsule is very fun. But I found that lots of people don't know how to use it and where to see the short videos."
MATTHEW BRENNEN TECH ANALYST "The usage of the new features so far is not very high. Most of the people don't know how to use them. But of course that may change over time."
Experts say competition is so fierce in China's internet industry that even a super app like WeChat cannot afford to misjudge their users' needs. Could its position of dominance finally be in danger of collapsing? Let's wait and see.