Success engenders either imitation or fear. That is exactly what is going on for Wechat right now. Concerning imitation, two very wechat-like Apps already launched recently, Yichat powered by Netease &China Telecom and Wemeet by Sina. Concerning fear, Alibaba bans its platform online seller to link with Wechat; while Jindong, China second biggest e-commerce platform, forbids its employees to form social group on Wechat, though Yichat is permissible. So the heated debate is can Wechat stand such besiege?

I will say Wechat should be fine.

Let us talk about imitation first:

It is said Wechat was originally inspired by IM feature of Xiaomi Smartphone called Miliao, but gradually Miliao is living under the shadow of Wechat. Miliao’s adoption is relying on how many people are going to buy Xiaomi phone. In contrast, Tencent is just converting its existing large user base of QQ IM into Wechat users.

Again China has huge population, which implies opportunity and money; that is why social mania never seems to abate in this country. Many internet giant companies or startups dream that they should have a chance to occupy a small market niche. But the thing is you really do not bother toying with several identical social IM apps at the same time. Usually adhere to one or two social apps should be more than enough, at least based on my personal experience, unless something extraordinary emerging to break the status quo.

Though I already registered a Yichat account,  I do not see large flock of my acquaintances migrating from Wechat to Yichat and they still send me messages via Wechat. Unless the circle of my people switches to Yichat, I am happy to stay with Wechat.

Second about fear:

Internet giant companies here often have this intense and cut-throat competition. Wechat’s rising popularity certainly would cause uneasiness or even fear among its internet arch- rivals. Ironically, I still discern Alibaba’s Tmall and Jiongdong group buying maintain their public accounts on Wechat; after all no one would resist the temptation of leveraging Wechat's dominant influence on Chinese netizens these days.

We know that the success of internet company often depends on whether it is able to attract large online crowds. The more, the merrier, but how to milk some money out of “hot online party” is often not that easy. Tencent’s specialty is always social and gaming, and just for the record it lacks certain genes in e-commerce. Now Alibaba, which is often not gifted in social strategy, wants to suppress the power of Wechat. In fact, Alibaba recently allied with Sina, hoping to come up something to compete with Tencent. Will their little scheme work? Probably not right now.

By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager