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Apple Now Accepts WeChat Pay in China

In a statement sent to multiple Chinese media outlets today, Apple said iPhone and iPad users in China can now use WeChat Pay as a payment method for App Store and Apple Music purchases."We are glad to offer users in mainland China the option of WeChat Pay for their favorite mobile app or Apple Music products. We continue to be dedicated to provide multiple simple and convenient payment methods for customers within the Apple ecosystem," Apple said in an official statement today.WeChat Pay is the second most popular mobile payments service in China, with an estimated 39.5 percent market share as of the first quarter of 2017, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys. By comparison, Apple Pay's market share was estimated to have been just one percent in the first quarter. WeChat itself is an incredibly popular app in China that allows users to pay for services, chat, hail a cab, watch videos, play mini games, and more. Since the app can be installed on Android, some analysts believe WeChat is a threat to Apple by way of reducing the iPhone's competitive advantage in China. Nevertheless, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said WeChat's creator Tencent is one of its most important developers. "I see Tencent as one of our biggest and best developers," said Cook, speaking on a conference call in early August. "They've done a great job of implementing iOS features in their apps, and we're looking forward to working with them even more to build even greater experiences for our mutual users in China." Apple has also accepted Alipay, the most popular mobile payment

WeChat App in China Described as Apple's 'Toughest Rival' as iPhone 8 Launch Nears

Apple's difficulty in garnering a larger share of the smartphone market in China has been looked at recently by The Wall Street Journal, which described the ubiquitous mobile app WeChat [Direct Link] as the iPhone's "toughest rival" in the country. Citing data from QuestMobile, on average WeChat is said to have captured nearly 35 percent of each user's monthly smartphone usage time, averaging about 1 billion monthly active users in total. The problem for Apple is that WeChat is an entire ecosystem, with one app allowing users to pay for services, text, call cabs, watch videos, play mobile games, and access cloud-based "mini programs," or apps that don't need to be downloaded to a device to be used. Because all of these WeChat features are universal across smartphone brands, analysts speaking with The Wall Street Journal questioned whether or not Apple is "losing its edge" in China. Specifically, Apple saw a sales drop in Greater China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) in the first half of this past fiscal year, with revenue falling 13 percent in the period. According to analysts looking towards the launch of the iPhone 8, that device's success "largely depends on sales in China." Skeptical investors are asking whether consumers in China will pay $1,000 for a new iPhone, when they spend more than 60% of their phone time inside a system from Tencent or from rivals Baidu Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. “That’s the question: Is Apple losing its edge?” said Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley, who remains optimistic about Apple’s prospects in China. Apple has been making

Apple Takes Risk By Telling Chinese Chat Apps to Disable 'Tip' Functions

Apple has told several Chinese social networking apps to disable their "tip" functions to comply with App Store rules, according to executives at WeChat and other companies. The tip functions in Chinese messaging platforms are free to use and allow people to send authors and other content creators monetary tips through transfers to mobile wallet accounts. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, Apple has decided that tips are equivalent to in-app purchases – similar to buying games, music, and videos – therefore Apple is entitled to a 30 percent cut of every transaction. WeChat on iPhone The move by Apple appears to be a way to eke out additional revenue from Chinese iPhone users as part of a broader effort to increase its market share in the country. According to research firm IDC, Apple's market share in China dropped from 16 percent in Q1 2015 to 9 percent in Q1 2017, while the iPhone has fallen to fourth place behind Chinese brands Oppo, Huawei, and Vivo. On the other hand, Apple's App Store revenue in China overtook its U.S. App Store revenue in 2016 and became the biggest App Store market in the world. Making the tip function an in-app purchase in China's wildly popular chat apps would seem to be a sure-fire way to increase Apple's revenue. However, Apple's pressure on messaging platforms like WeChat is a risk and threatens to alienate huge Chinese companies. Some social-networking apps have likened Apple's tactic to arm-twisting, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple is said to have told chief executives at two companies that if they

WeChat Launches Cloud-Based, iMessage App Store-Like 'Mini Program'

Popular Chinese mobile app company WeChat [Direct Link] congratulated Apple on ten years of the iPhone earlier this morning, with founder Allan Zhang posting photos online from the iPhone's unveiling in January 2007. Simultaneously, WeChat parent company Tencent Holdings launched a suite of cloud-based smartphone apps that analysts believe suggests WeChat intends to "play a leading role in the next decade" of the smartphone software business (via The Wall Street Journal). The new platform is called "Mini Program" and is made up of a collection of apps, all stored in the cloud, that users can access without downloading or requiring storage space on their smartphone. Although seemingly a direct counterpart to the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, a Tencent spokeswoman speaking with The Wall Street Journal said that the company "maintained regular dialogue with Apple" throughout the development of Mini Program. WeChat also deliberately avoids calling it an "app store." The company has taken care not to describe Mini Program as an app store, saying it doesn’t have a central location to distribute applications. Apple doesn’t allow third-party app stores in its iOS App Store. Tencent also dropped plans to include the word “app” in its name, calling the features “programs” instead. “Apple won’t let us call it App Accounts, which might turn out to be a good thing,” Tencent Chairman Pony Ma wrote on his WeChat account in September, as Mini Program began beta testing. Although Mini Program provides experiences and programs similar to iOS apps, none are located in a