After just a short period of two years, WeChat now claims over 1 million mini-programs from more than 1.5 million third-party developers for its mini-apps, officially known as mini-programs, platform, according to its development team’s announcement on Wednesday.
Mini-apps are essentially apps within the ubiquitous WeChat platform that are far less data intensive than normal apps, but offer convenience to users who do not have to leave the WeChat platform. The nimble programs are touted to be one of the most disruptive technologies on China’s tech scene in recent years, as they require no additional installation and offer users the option to install less apps on their phones.
The growth of the mini-apps scene has been astronomical. Just in the middle of January this year, Tencent had announced that the number of mini-apps at 580,000 and a million developers – meaning that Wechat’s mini-apps have ballooned close to twice in more than six months, with the number of developers increasing by close to a third, according to the same report.
On the development front, The team also said that the space of the next evolution of mini-apps will be in games and advertising, and remain ‘highly optimistic’ about the growth of mini-apps.
Mini-apps games are popular among WeChat users, with 34.6% of consumers’ interactions spent on games among all mini-apps’ interactions on the platform; with online shopping coming in second at 22.7%, according to a recent report by research agency ALD.
The WeChat development team had announced in April the opening up of the mini-apps platform for third-party game developers, with an opening up of the advertising module on WeChat for developers in September last year.
Future steps to be taken by WeChat on its mini-apps development remained to be seen. Product managers for third-party mini-apps interviewed by Caixin expressed the need for Tencent to balance developing an ecosystem for mini-apps vs monetizing the mini-platform.
The focus should be on opening up the platforms to development to encourage a growth within the ecosystem, the product managers said, and that fee-based charge for third-party mini-apps providers to utilise WeChat’s platform would not be ideal for development, they added.
Editor: Ben Jiang