As has been widely reported in the last few days, WeChat will launch a new app called the ‘WeChat Enterprise App’ (企业版微信). Read on to find out: What is the new app all about? How will this affect WeChat? & Why are they doing this?
A screenshot of the new app login page
The new Chinese version of Slack?
In general Chinese people are very comfortable using WeChat for both work and personal communications, something that many non-Chinese find strange or unprofessional. This has led to exaggerated claims that ‘e-mail is dead in China’.
Screenshots released show the new app to look familiar in design to WeChat
Attend any kind of networking event in China and it’s clear that exchanging WeChat QR Codes is just as common as exchanging business cards. Even Zhang Xiaolong (the “father of WeChat”) said earlier this year “I’m worried that people spend too much time on WeChat.”
Zhang Xiaolong’s speech in Jan this year
It seems the new WeChat enterprise App is being developed, at least in part, to help people separate their work and personal lives better.
The app will be free with iOS, Android, Mac and Windows versions (same as normal WeChat). No official launch date has been set, but it’s likely to be out in a few months’ time.
Wait! What about Enterprise Accounts?
WeChat of course already has a system for facilitating company communication called Enterprise Accounts (logo above). Most WeChat users will never see or use these accounts unless their work place requires them to do so.
Above: a screenshot from our ChCh test enterprise account.
The two systems of enterprise accounts and the enterprise app will connect, but exactly how really hasn’t been made clear yet.
We’ve been here before
Just because a new app is launched under the WeChat brand name does not necessarily mean it will be a success. In Nov 2014 WeChat launched an app called WeChat Phone Book (微信电话本) to much fanfare.
The app allows users access to free high quality VOIP (voice over IP) calling, group video calls and automatic contact list backup. WeChat Phone Book has waned in popularity over time (see chart below from App Annie) especially as the WeChat core app added similar group video calling features.
It’s too early to tell if the new WeChat enterprise app will follow the same fate.