Update: at a press conference yesterday, where WeChat, incidentally, repeatedly declined to disclose its active user base in India, or provide details on the usage of services on its platform, the did tell us that the official accounts created in partnership with WeChat get API access, that a normal account can not. AskMe also gets featured as an official account on WeChat. But really, this is of no use if WeChat doesn’t have usage.
In response to a query from MediaNama, Jaspreet Bindra, CEO of Getit Informedia said that there is no push based component to the service, but it is possible for AskMe to push updates to its followers. Bindra also mentioned that no premium charges are levied on SME’s for promoting their deals of WeChat. “We are in the business of enabling SME’s to be digitally discovered. We do that through our own products, askme, yellowpages.in, freeads. Whether it’s through a partnership with Yahoo, Nokia, Facebook, whatever. When a message gets discovered, it gets into an integrated billing management system, and passed on to SME’s. We have different commercial relationships with different SME’s. Sometimes certain leads are more valuable than others.”
He didn’t comment on what sort of an addressable active user base WeChat provides to Getit, or on why Getit chose WeChat over other platforms to begin with. WeChat also allows commerce, but this service hasn’t been launched in India yet. The success of that depends on how many users AskMe can get on WeChat to follow them, which is itself a function of how many active users WeChat has in India.
Yesterday: Getit Infomedia’s local search engine AskMe has partnered Tencent’s mobile messaging app WeChat to provide location-specific local searches, deals and classifieds through an official account ‘AskMeSearch’ on WeChat.
AskMe says it will also provide information on trending restaurants and deals of the day, apart from providing classifieds on vehicles, mobiles, properties and jobs. thereby allowing its SME and merchant customer base to reach out to their audience in WeChat. The deal period or the terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
It looks like WeChat is trying to differentiate itself from its competitors lie WhatsApp, LINE, Hike and others by taking the ecosystem approach. The company says it has tie-ups with brands like Hungama Music, Cafe Coffee Day, Big Bazaar, 9XM and others who have an official account on WeChat. For instance, users can listen to music on WeChat using Hungama music and also share the music to their friends.
However, we are not quite sure of how many users of messaging services like WeChat would actually be interested in using these services to search classifieds. That being said, how many active users from India are actually present on WeChat anyways? It claims to have 100 million “registered accounts” in international markets which doesn’t really matter in terms of messaging apps – it’s the number of monthly active users that does.
This is something which WhatsApp with 30M active users in India is not doing right now, although its worth noting that the company has been really vocal about not selling ads on its messaging service and this service can also be viewed as a sort of advertisement from an user’s perspective.
Coinciding with this partnership, WeChat has also launched an in-app mobile gaming section called WeChat Games. Located under the ‘Discover’ tab in the messaging service, the section currently offers four titles – GunZ Dash, 2Day’s Match, Craz3 Match & Pencil Pilot. One can tap on any game of their preference to download the app from Google Play store and start playing it through WeChat’s gaming section.
The company says users can also challenge their nearby friends and other users on WeChat and also buy add-on items though in-app purchases to improve their in-game capabilities.
WeChat’s competitor LINE also has a similar offering in LINE Games which currently offers more than 25 games. It had also introduced a new service called LINE free coins on Android in July last year, through which the company was incentivizing users to download specific games in return for virtual coins.
It will be interesting to see if WeChat also launches a similar service to its users to incentivize them to play games and redeem virtual coins for physical or virtual rewards.