By Sijia Jiang
HONG KONG, March 21 (Reuters) - China's biggest smartphone
makers are collaborating to promote download-free "fast apps",
in a move backed by the government and likely to threaten
Tencent Holdings' grip on mobile traffic with its
wildly popular WeChat app.
The messenger-to-payment app WeChat, which has more than 1
billion users, last year launched "mini-programmes" within the
app that look and operate much like apps on Apple Inc's
iOS and Google's Android operating systems, but are far less
Tencent has said WeChat is not a challenge to the dominant
mobile platforms, but some analysts and developers say the new
business could eat into that of iOS and Android app ecosystem,
as they take a cut from app purchases.
Since its launch, WeChat's mini-programmes have lured some
consumers away from those app stores.
The "fast apps" are similar, HTML-based lite apps that can
be instantly launched without downloading, and introduced by a
group of 10 Chinese smartphone vendors and a government agency,
they said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The partners in the alliance are Xiaomi Technology Co
<IPO-XMGP.HK>, ZTE Corp , Huawei
Technologies, Gionee, Lenovo Group, Meizu,
Nubia, OPPO, Vivo, OnePlus, and the China Academy of Information
and Communications Technology under the Ministry of Industry and
They will standardise formats so that app developers need to
just design one "fast app", instead of 10 "fast apps" tweaked to
each vendor's hardware.
The open platform will form a new mobile traffic ecosystem
which will be more efficient and convenient for users totaling
nearly 1 billion among the 10 vendors, the statement said.
Xiaomi, which said there are already more than 100 "fast
apps" in its app store, told Reuters the alliance is aimed at
enhancing user experience and is not targeting any particular
"Fast app" versions of some of the most popular apps in
China, such as news aggregator Toutiao and travel booking site
Ctrip, can be found in the Mi app store with an
"instant launch" mark next to them.
Smartphone makers plan to promote the "fast apps" through
AI-enhanced recommendations, they said in the statement.
Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for
(Reporting by Sijia Jiang
Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.