Wechat, Weibo vs. SMS
   2013-08-15 18:01:57    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xu Fei

A person uses WeChat to purchase a bottled soft-drink at the venue of the 12th China Internet Conference which runs until Thursday, August 15, 2013. According to the advertisement on the machine, a soft drink priced at 5 yuan is available at a discounted price of 1 yuan when consumers use the WeChat app to purchase the beverage. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

Today, people in China have more choices when it comes to communicating, like WeChat and Weibo, which allow them to send instant messages via their mobile phone.

Increased choice has led to intense competition between the traditional telecommunications companies and mobile internet portals.

Analysts and insiders offer their respective opinions regarding the ways that the telecommunications companies should develop in order to cope with the new challenges.

CRI's Xu Fei has more.


On New Year's Eve this year, Chinese people sent a total of 1.16-billion mobile phone short messages containing festival greetings. However, the average level of sending short messages per person has dropped from 42 to 36.

Instead, Tencent's Wechat has become a major tool for instant communication. Statistics also show that the number of WeChat users has already exceeded 300 million.

But according to analyst Lu Jingyu, who works for i-Research Consulting Group, a leading company focusing on in-depth research related to China's internet industry, SMS messages will not be quickly replaced by Over-The-Top services such as Wechat or Weibo private messaging.

"The short messaging service will not disappear in the short term since a large amount of the population is still using it. But in the future, along with the number of rising smartphone users and the development of mobile Internet, I think more and more people will switch to this Over-The-Top service. Then the short messaging service would be gradually replaced by OTT services."

An Over-The-Top or OTT application is any app or service that provides a product over the Internet and bypasses traditional distribution networks.

As such OTT services become available, Lu Jingyu proposes two ways by which telecommunications companies can tackle the present challenge.

"The telecommunications companies may try to invent a competitive instant messaging service of their own. The other way is to cooperate with OTT service providers. But the disadvantage in the first solution lies in the fact that the telecom companies are unfamiliar with making Internet-related products; so their products might not give the users the same comfortable experiences when it's put to use. China Unicom has opted for the second solution by seeking cooperation with WeChat."

In fact, the popular messaging App -- WeChat is not just conquering user but turning rivals into partners. China Unicom in Guangdong province and WeChat's owner Tencent are introducing the first joint SIM card. Users can enjoy both WeChat's new services and discounts from China Unicom.

An automatic selling machine bears an advertisement telling consumers to use WeChat in order to buy soft drinks at a discounted price. These machines are seen at the venue of the 12th China Internet Conference which runs until Thursday, August 15, 2013. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

China Unicom is not alone in its actions.
A marketing manager with China Mobile Guangxi Branch surnamed Su explains his thinking on the ways in which his company can cope with the challenges it now faces.

"The telecommunications companies should explore a specialized and profitable corner of the market to attract customers. This way, the telecommunications companies can cope with the challenges posed by the new WeChat and Weibo private messaging systems. Business innovation is the direction that the three telecom giants should work towards. Innovative development can increase their value."

For CRI, I'm Xu Fei.



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