Chinese social network WeChat launched on January 9 the long-awaited Mini Program (or XiaoChengXu in Chinese), an in-app service channel that allows users to acquire various third-party solutions via web pages in the WeChat app.
Such solutions range from flight-booking, hotel-reservation, car-hailing, bike-rental to online shopping. Users can get instant access to these third-party services via WeChat’s Mini Program channel without having to download and install any of these applications on the phone.
WeChat reported 768 million daily logged in users as of September 16, 2016, up by 35% YoY. Some 50% of its users stayed online for at least 90 minutes per day, according to the company's annual data report. An analyst commented that Mini Program may reshape the landscape of low-frequency tool apps.
The Official Account service rolled out previously by WeChat comprises subscription accounts and service accounts. The subscription accounts mostly deliver media contents to their subscribed users, while the service accounts respond to service requests from their subscribed users through HTML5-based pages. The user experience was deemed unsatisfactory as users have to go through a long path to access the services.
The innovative Mini Program resembles an upgraded version of the HTML5-based service pages and runs more smoothly on the WeChat platform. On the other end, it is more like a browser of web pages of all sorts of web-based apps.
Mini Program was kick-started by WeChat on January 9, 2017. Ten years ago on the same date, Apple Inc. unveiled the first generation of iPhone with its interactive touchscreen and elegant apps.
Mr. Allen Zhang, founder of WeChat, said that the Mini Program is an application platform which enables users to get instant access to the app services they need by simply scanning QR codes or search the service name on WeChat, without having to download and install all sorts of third-party apps on their phones. Users can simply close the service page on WeChat once the service is done.
The Mini Program application is deemed considerably more feasible for travel companies that have lots of offline resources yet are less frequently visited by their users on the platform. (Translated by Jerry)