Mobile Applications

WeChat Eyes Video Streaming, Satellite Apps

WeChat’s founder has revealed the company’s next moves as he admits that even the popular platform could potentially become obsolete.

“WeChat will need to face new challenges in the next eight years,” Allen Zhang said at a Tencent Holdings Conference, according to Bloomberg. “Moments has become a very traditional place for social networking, as people use it to showcase the best of themselves to win recognition from others.”

With that in mind, Zhang plans to make the platform more like real life. The first step is a just-launched video streaming feature that enables users to share their lives in real time, including the ability to add emojis, text and music.

“What we want is something that can let people record what they’re really experiencing, and let their friends see,” he said. “This process should not be like Moments. If it were, we wouldn’t be doing this.”

In addition, WeChat introduced a setting that allows people to display posts for just three days.

“Allen really spent a lot of time trying to explain the philosophy behind the WeChat product during that four-hour speech,” said John Choi, an analyst with Daiwa Securities Group Inc. in Hong Kong. “It’s clear that they need to further enhance user engagement, as user growth is not going to be the key growth driver in the future.”

Zhang added that he is looking to launch a variety of satellite apps which share functions and links to the main app but can also exist on their own.

“WeChat as an app has already featured many, many things,” he said. “But there’s a limit to how much it can hold.”

As for working with third-party developers, Zhang admitted that the company hasn’t always been fair, but he vows that his platform will no longer choose favorites or direct traffic to Tencent’s other companies. That promise won’t make everyone at Tencent happy, though, with employees often complaining that WeChat is run like a dictatorship.

“I’ve always regarded myself as a product manager and not a professional manager,” said Zhang. “A good product needs a dictator, otherwise if too many opinions are involved, the product will fall apart.”

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