From the start, Weixin was likely a clone of Talkbox, an instant voice messaging startup from Hong Kong. After Talkbox’s runaway success it became the target of many others including MiTalk (米聊 by Xiaomi), Kiki Messenger, Youni, and of course Tencent’s Weixin.
But Weixin has one key advantage the others can only dream of: 700 million registered users. Just about every single Chinese internet user has a QQ account, for many QQ is the internet. For Weixin, a QQ account is the only log-in option, which also immediately allows the app to pull from a user’s existing QQ social graph.
Functionality-wise Weixin is fairly standard comparing to its competitors. All have text messaging, photo sharing, voice messaging, location-sharing, and group messaging.
But Weixin once again further leverages Tencent’s massive user base by offering an edgy geo-location service. You can see and message any users within a 1000m radius of your GPS position, whether they are a friend or not.
Now you can strike up a conversation with a random stranger near you, and we can all imagine the other applications this neat little feature can lead to. One friend told me it was an excellent way to find 美女, ‘beautiful girls’ in his vicinity.
And to give you an idea of how far Tencent’s userbase extends, let me offer an example:
For me, my location search normally reveals 30+ strangers near my home, a residential area. In CBD Shanghai, that number will be considerably higher nearing 50. That’s 50 users every 1000m already using Weixin–and imagine how many more QQ users aren’t yet on Weixin.
For a friend in Singapore, his search came up with 7 strangers, so clearly with Weixin you can find people for an interesting chat just about anywhere in Asia Pacific area and maybe also in Japan.
Of course you can erase yourself from this search if peace and quiet is your style. But the default is opt-in.
Weixin is available on Android, iPhone and Symbian, to experience it you can download the app here.