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Must-have Apps in China (Part 2)
25.9.2016

After we published the first part of this blog in June 2016, please find here part 2 of this blog.

qq

1. QQ

QQ – pronounced ‘coco’ in Chinese – began as an instant messaging service for desktop, much like MSN and AOL, and used to be China’s most popular instant messaging service for many a year until the rise of Wechat. It must have been a strange few years for QQ, being overshadowed by an APP from the same company Tencent. Up until 2013 you would ask a person’s QQ number, then, all of a sudden that changed.

Mind you, QQ is far from history. QQ is still widely used both on desktop and smart devices. In November 2015 QQ had racked up a staggering 639 million MAUs (monthly active users) on smart devices and 860 million MAUs on desktop. Speaking from experience, QQ is still more widely used in the workspace – although this might soon change with WeChat Enterprise – to communicate with coworkers and business contacts, and send files or photos back and forth.

Much like WeChat and other apps, QQ houses a myriad of in-app possibilities, ranging from gaming and shopping, to live streaming and city services. All of which you can buy using your QQ wallet. Nevertheless, the majority of users hardly use these functions as they tend to go to WeChat or other apps. In the end, QQ still remains a chat-app for many people, and it probably won’t be able to shake off the perception that it can be much more.

Weibo

2. Sina Weibo (微博)

Sina Weibo is usually referred to as Chinese twitter, and even though it is similar, Twitter is no match for the versatile platform that Weibo is. It was reported that in June 2016 Weibo’s MAUs had increased by 33% in one year to a total of 282 million, 89% of which were mobile users. Its DAUs (daily active users) grew to 126 million, a 36% increase from 2015.


Weibo is an open social media platform, facilitating the rapid spread of information. Much like Twitter, most people use Weibo to stay up to date reading trending news facts. Furthermore Weibo is all about following, obtaining and sharing useful and interesting content. Yet, it must be mentioned that a large percentage of users also use the platform to watch videos and live streams, find nearby services, follow sports and click links to buy online.

It’s refreshing to witness Weibo amassing more followers after the platform was almost written off by critics when WeChat boomed. Weibo does not only cater to the individual but also to companies looking to advertise to the masses through strong social marketing. Since Weibo is an open social network, the potential to reach as many people as possible is statistically much larger than the closed social network of WeChat, earning Weibo increasing popularity with marketers and advertisers.

JD Amazon

3. JD.com (京东) & Amazon.cn (亚马逊)

Some of you might be wondering why Tmall or Taobao isn’t included in this list. But to be fair, for many expats, setting up Alipay and linking it to your Tmall account is a total hassle, especially when you hardly understand Chinese. For travelers this is even more unnecessary. So why not go with China’s number 2 e-commerce tycoon and the West’s number 1?

JD, the platform you browse when shopping inside the WeChat and QQ apps, has traditionally been the go-to platform for electronics, and it still is, together with Suning, but it has been expanding its product range extensively over the last few years. Setting up an account is quite simple and there’s no need to link cards or third-party payment services. JD namely offers the very convenient cash-on-delivery payment option for most of the products JD resells through its direct sales model.

Similarly Amazon.cn allows cash-on-delivery payment as well. And if you already have an Amazon account, you can simply use that to log into Amazon.cn. Even though the product catalogue is a far cry from Amazon’s Western platforms in terms of sheer volume and diversity, Amazon.cn does sport a vast array of English-language books and electronics accessories.

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