Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Asia Apple

WeChat’s Next Step Toward a SuperApp

Tencent is Asia’s most valuable company in part because 800 million people use its WeChat mobile messaging application every month. Now WeChat’s inventor, Allen Zhang, is rolling out a new feature he calls “small programs,” which lets people use app-like services within WeChat but without needing to download apps. I believe these mini-apps could challenge old models of how mobile apps are used and distributed as well as capture the “long tail” of apps that most people aren’t willing to download.

Curiosity about the new feature is running high in China’s tech circles. Photos of prototypes have leaked. It’s still in a “pilot beta” and only 200 software developers—who are sworn to secrecy—are testing it. Tencent has heightened the mystery by revealing very few details, aside from saying late last month it would launch soon. The unknowns include how revenue will be split with developers. It’s a safe bet that developers would be willing to pay a premium for access to WeChat’s users.

What Is The Information?

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Get access to our reporters and other top executives with monthly deep-dive calls into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

What else is included in my subscription?

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Annual Subscriber only benefits:

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Crypto Newsletter

Our experts investigate the latest in the crypto world to keep you in-the-know about the movements of digital currencies.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Recent Articles

Amazon Google Apple

Alexa, Is Voice Still the Next Big Thing After Mobile?

By Priya Anand

Apple

Watching Tim Cook at Sun Valley

By Jessica E. Lessin

Asia Apple

Inside Apple Factory Thefts: Secret Tunnels, Hidden Crawl Spaces

By Wayne Ma

WeChat’s model could solve the problem most apps have: They’re downloaded once and rarely, if ever, used again.