Tag Archives: messaging apps

The Future of WeChat

It is not secret that I am fascinated with WeChat. It showcases the promise of conversational commerce in action. Yesterday I was talking about the opportunities in WeChat in Lead Conference. The different features we all know, but I find the small portion in the end of my presentation about the future of WeChat truly intriguing. We all know that WeChat has made huge leap from communication platform to payment platform.

wechat

WeChat: Messaging platform evolved to payment platform

It is currently the digital lifeline of the whole China, but what they are planning in the future. Below are couple of key points about WeChat future:

What about the global expansion?

WeChat tried to become a global messenger app. They hired Messi in 2013 with big money to be the face of WeChat. And apparently they got downloads but not engagement. Messaging apps lives and dies based on do you have anyone to message with. Techinasia dubbed WeChat´s global expansion “a disaster”. What makes WeChat unique in China is hard to replicate in other markets because of different digital ecosystem, legislation and other monopolies ruling the roost.

Now WeChat has pretty much abandoned these global aspirations as consumer product, but don´t be fooled they are still eyeing for global expansion but less as B2C product but more as B2B offering. There are two main ways how WeChat is creating its global footprint:

1.Being the gateway to China for western brands

WeChat wants to work with International brands to enable them to sell their products through its Chinese online retail platform. The benefit is that companies can then avoid some of the bureaucracy in China when setting up their own retail operations in the country.

“Almost 95 per cent of global [luxury] brands are on WeChat now — in the UK, there is Burberry and Mulberry, in Italy, Valentino, Zegna, Prada, all the big brands. Two years ago, the number was 50 per cent and last year 75 per cent, so the growth has picked up recently.”

-Andrea Ghizzoni (Europe Director, Tencent)

2. Conquering Europe and other markets through payment

Majority of Chinese tourists prefer to pay with Alipay or WeChat Pay, and only 10% would opt for cash or credit cards. This consumer sentiment has not left unnoticed by the western retailers. Chinese tourists are extremely lucrative target audience and if offering familiar paying option can ease the buying process I would be really surprised of not seeing WePay more present especially in western luxury retailers:

“Chinese customers tend to close the sale more quickly when they know that they can pay with mobile. Those transaction times are extremely quick, at under a minute.”

– Candice Koo, the Managing Director of CANCAN

All roads lead to AI

Like other big Internet monopolies, Tencent is making big strides with AI. This year they opened research facility in Seattle solely focusing on artificial intelligence and last year they established AI lab in Shenzen. AI is build around robust data so WeChat has clear advantage as they have vast amount of conversation and connections data. More importantly they also have payment data through its WePay platform. So essentially WeChat is sitting on the most valuable data sources: how people are spending their money? Where people are? And what they are talking about?

“Shopping and search engine data show one type of data, which is purchasing or shopping intent, which is valuable, but different. For example, if you were to build out an Natural Language Understanding engine, you would not use search engine data, because no one searches based on complete conversational phrases.”

-Tak Lo, Zeroth AI

There are already couple of prominent accounts utilizing AI within WeChat. Chumen WenWen is voice assistant that connects to third party APIs and answers questions around what you should do (e.g. restaurants, movies, services and more). Alibaba got headstart with facial recognition with its widely covered “Smile to pay” collaboration with KFC but it will be sure that WeChat will be launching tools based on facial recognition technologies. WeChat has also been improving its search function going head-to-head against Baidu by incorporating more social and connection information to its search results.

On a lighter note, what has become tradition with Microsoft AI Chatbots, their WeChat Chatbot Xiaobing and other chatbot BabyQ also went rogue and started slandering communist party.

“My China dream is to go to America.”

Xiaobing (WeChat Chatbot)

Do you think that such a corrupt and incompetent political regime can live forever?”

BabyQ (to the question about Chinese Communist Party)

If you want to know where Western conversational commerce is tomorrow, you only need to analyze what WeChat is already today.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Psst… Can I Whisper you A Secret? Anonymous Mobile Messaging Apps Are The Next Big Thing in Digital

Mobile instant messaging is all the rage at the moment. WhatsApp got bought by Facebook for over 19 billionWhopping 73% of China´s online population uses WeChat. The amount of Snapchat users has increased over 67% in the last six months.

Next big thing will be anonymous mobile chatting:

1. There is a demand for anonynomous interest-based social networks
Have you ever wondered why discussion forums still thrive in 2014?
Why I was so amped up about Internet was that I could be able to talk about things I was interested (hiphop, basketball and record collecting) with people all around the world. With my friends I can communicate with every possible method, but finding likeminded people around passion points that new Internet start-ups have not tapped into in a while. Since the demise of MySpace, tech industry has been over-obsessed with friend-based networks and neglected the interest-based connections.

2. Content in anonymous mobile apps is more interesting 
Majority of Facebook content bores the hell out of people. I know that I am not the only one, who could live without a single photo update about “meat trophies” (baby photos), weddings, travel photos and sport achievements (I am guilty of the latter two). Everyone has a role to play in this world and Facebook is the center of humblebrag. It is filled with people trying to give polished side about themselves. Perfection is not really interesting, but the faults are (something marketers should also realize).
At a brief glance my Secret app is filled with dirty stories (both sexual and scatological) and controversial opinions from people who would not post anything of that sort in Facebook. One glance to FB or Twitter puts me to sleep. Posting with your own name puts automatic self-censorship on and usually people overdo it and they just come up with boring stuff.

Anonymity unleashes the real side of the people. In good and bad ways.

But don´t just take my word for it though, advertisers see potential with these applications as well. Combination of mining of the message content and GPS data could provide interesting advertising possibilities. Traditional media has also taken a heed and they are monitoring these apps to get some juicy secrets (usually false ones).

So how you can get started to post your toilet secrets?
Below I have broken down the four most interesting anonymous messaging apps:

Secret
secret-path
Secret is finally available in Android and that might be the tipping point which will propel it to mainstream success.
Basic promise: Share your secrets freely and anonymously. You can upload short posts and images.
Level of anonymity: You will be given an avatar and you can connect Secret with your contact list or find secrets based on the location. This puts interesting twist to usage of Secret as you automatically start to guess whom of your friends is posting the secrets.
Addictiveness: Content is not as explicit as in Whisper but way more interesting than your average FB and Twitter feeds. There seems to be also a steady stream of meaningful discussions in Secret going on. Usage is intuitive and it is the most advanced of the new generation messaging apps.

Whisper
dj
Another anonymous social network gaining popularity at the moment, it is more closer to media company as it has editorial staff headed by former Gawker editor Neetzan Zimmerman.
Basic promise: You can post your secrets in the meme-like format where your text is superimposed on a picture. Whisper also allows sending private messages to users and following topics that interest you most.
Level of anonymity: This app is completely anonymous and does not connect with your contact list.
Addictiveness: The app is messy both from content and functions. The complete anonymity unleashes probably the expressiveness of the users. Because of the private messaging function Whisper is used more to hooking up than other its competitors. Because of the editorial aspects of the app, Whisper is more enjoyable for the passive users as posts can get “viral” based on their algorithm.
 
Yik Yak
yikyak
Yik Yak is taking some cues from other social sites (Reddit) as it is incorporating timeline that consists of purely text updates.
Basic promise: Getting a live feed of what people are saying around you. You can upvote and downvote what is good and what is not. It is mostly targeted to college students.
Level of anonymity: It does not connect to your contact list but connects to your location (everyone in 1.5 mile radius can see the posts)
Addictiveness: Totally related to where you are posting. Being in too crowded area makes content too general but using app where they are no other users feels like having your private party. The look & feel is nicer than Whisper, but not as polished as Secret.

Chance
chance
Chance pretty much brings Chatroulette to mobile.
Basic promise: You can chat with random strangers.
Level of anonymity: Your selfie is taken every time you start a new chat and that acts as an avatar.
Addictiveness: As majority of the users are horny single dudes, expect short conversations if you are not hot girl and plenty of x-rated suggestions.

Naturally being anonymous does not necessarily only result to funny light-hearted frivolous chat. Especially Yik Yak has been getting flak as it has been connected to cyberbullying in High Schools.
It is too early to say are these apps just a passing fad or a sign of something bigger. I believe that there is definitely longer-lasting market for these applications. The founder of 4Chan Christopher  “moot” Poole put it nicely:

“The industry has spent ten years rushing to capitalize on real identity and friendship based networks and now it´s getting turned on to its head.
Now they are rushing to understand the opposite”

Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: