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An attendee uses her smartphone during Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat Open Class Pro conference in Guangzhou, China, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. WeChat, the social network that is nearly ubiquitous in China, said at the conference that it has 580,000 mini-programs in operation. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Tencent's WeChat is now host to 1 million mini-programs

Mini programs are helping to boost customer retention on WeChat, which has 1 billion users globally.


Tencent Holdings now offers one million mini-programs on its WeChat platform that help consumers do everything from online shopping to avoiding eye contact on the subway with simple-to-play games.

The Shenzhen-based company reached the million mark in the first half, increasing from the 580,000 sub-applications reported by Allen Zhang, a Tencent senior vice president, in January.

Mini programs refer to applications smaller than 10 megabytes that can run instantly on WeChat’s interface. They offer speed of access to users because they do not have to be downloaded from an app store but can run from within WeChat on any operating system.

Mini-programs are helping WeChat retain users.

The proportion of users who return the next day to use the app increased to 25.5 per cent in June, from 13.2 per cent in November, according to a report by statistics provider

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Gaming and e-commerce are the most popular segments among mini programs, with more than a third of users playing games on the platform.

The record for daily active users was 280 million, reached in February during the Chinese New Year holiday. That was helped by the popularity of the Jump Jump mini-game, which attracted 400 million players in less than three days after becoming available on WeChat’s homepage. The game involved manipulating a block to jump on other blocks of differing distance.

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Tencent opened its mini-program platform to outside developers in April, giving them 30 to 50 per cent share of revenue generated from advertisements.

By the end of this year, the daily active users for mini-programs are expected to reach 400 million, according to the report. WeChat currently has a user base of 1 billion globally, which is larger than the populations of the European Union and Russia combined.

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Traditional business operators like milk producer Mengniu Dairy and property developer Wanda as well as supermarket chain Walmart are among those increasingly embracing mini programs.

Baidu and Alibaba Group, parent of the South China Morning Post, have similar features with their products. Facebook Messenger has included instant games on its platform.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: WeChat reaches milestone with 1m mini programs