Why WeChat is Wonderful: The Cross-Platform Mobile Chat/Audio/Video/Social Network That'll Change the World
"WeChat is going to change the world!", says my colleague Lisa Hanson, renowned expert on China's virtual goods market, and I tend to think she's right. It's a cross-platform mobile chat service first launched in China now rolling out to the rest of the world, but just saying that doesn't quite convey how big it already. Now with about 200 million active users, it's rapidly gaining on its closest rival, Whatsapp -- but like I said, it's not just a chat service. I started using it in China because most of its users are here, and it's already kind of a social necessity. When you meet people socially in Beijing and Shanghai, likely as not you'll pull your mobile phone out, launch WeChat, and show your WeChat QR code, so they can automatically add you to their communication network. (Speaking of which, I'm "wjamesau" on WeChat, if you want to connect.)
Besides text chat, it also has asynchronous audio chat -- meaning, you can send audio and messages to people in your contact network. This is better than texting in many cases, and opens up more use cases beyond chat -- for instance, I've used WeChat as a English/Chinese translation tool.
Wechat also has a social network so you can share updates and photos with your friends, and most NWN readers will love the fact that you can create an account without having to share your real world details. (Far as I can tell, you don't have to display your real name, or even show a real photo in your profile.)
And oh, did I mention WeChat has a booty call? I'll let my friends Andrew Leonard and Henry Fong explain: