While short video sharing apps such as Twitter’s Vine have increasingly won over western fans, Chinese app users have largely limited the majority of their internet communication to static text and images.
Tencent’s newest app, Weishi, aims to change this. Similar to Vine, Weishi allows people to share short eight-second videos with their friends, and these clips can be edited with various filters, watermarks and themes.
Since appearing on China’s iOS app store in September 2013, Weishi has steadily grown in popularity. According to reports by The Next Web , citing information from data tracker App Annie, Weishi has been ranked as one of the top three most downloaded social networking apps in China from December 27, 2013 to February 25, 2014.
“Weishi opens a new means of social interaction among Internet users in the mobile era. We are excited to find that an increasing number of people are using short videos to share funny, surprising or memorable moments of life in motion,” said Xing Hongyu, Weishi’s head of development and operation.
Weishi received a particularly sizeable boost in traffic around Valentine’s Day 2014, where the total number of single-day video views surpassed 160 million, largely thanks to a feature that let users organise their videos around tags such as “love confessions” and “showing affection”.
According to a Tencent statement, Weishi’s popularity “is a result of its convenience and fun user experience... Over 1,000 stars and celebrities have opened Weishi accounts and use it to interact with friends, families and fans.”
To those familiar with Tencent, Weishi’s rise may also be attributed to the simple fact that the app is a new product from the creators of WeChat – China’s number one messaging application with over 300 million active users.
“There is much potential for Weishi in China, given that Vine still does not have that much of a presence in the country given its link to Twitter — which is blocked [on the mainland],” wrote Katelyn Hong of The Next Web. “Furthermore, short-video sharing could be an invaluable add-on to WeChat in the long run, taking a key role in helping the chat app evolve to become a social platform.”
While Weishi currently exists as an app separate from WeChat, videos created via Weishi can easily be shared by the more popular messaging service.
WeChat and Weishi also have similar names in on the mainland, where Wechat is known as “Weixin.” Based on this trend, industry analysts have speculated that Tencent may be broadening its “Wei” brand by creating more apps for Chinese users, all of which will likely be compatible with WeChat in some fashion.
Tencent has made no secret of its desire to expand its reach, and Poshu Yeung, vice-president of Tencent’s international business group, said in 2013 that the company’s goal for the near future was to transform WeChat “beyond a simple chatting app and enrich the user experience by becoming a truly mobile social platform.”