Before starting to talk about the term “Mini Program”, you have to know where it is from. We do not need to go too far. Indeed, the company behind this project is Tencent. As we know, it is a Chinese internet giant where is main focus is on mobile applications (mobile apps) and its most famous app is WeChat. Since we have been in China we all know it. To summarize, it is a chat app and it has almost reached 850 million monthly users.
This article will not explain the specificities of WeChat, it is not the topic for it so let's go straight to the point. The “Mini Program”. It is a new project they are working on and they have launched a beta version end 2016.
What is a Mini Program?
Mostly, we can say that a “Mini Program” is a sort of small application. They are technically more basic than the real applications that we can download at the moment. They are stripped-down versions of iOS and Android apps that you can instantly download and store in WeChat.
When you use them they seem to be like apps but Tencent call them “Mini-Programs” because Apple will not let them use the specific term of “app”. Although, we still use the term “Mini App” when we talk about this new project.
A particular point of these ‘’apps” is that they do not have any app store. Indeed, if you want to find an app you will have to search for it on WeChat or scan the QR code that will find on printed adds in the street.
What is the advantage of these Mini Programs?
Very light programs and there is no need to download them. We can access them anywhere and anytime and if you do not want them anymore in your WeChat you have just to delete them. It is as simple as to delete a message.
Moreover, these apps will have a captive audience and they can work cross platform for iOS and WeChat users that makes them really accessible.
Another point is that this new concept will help the companies for they own app. As you all know, they are sort of blocked in China so it is a way to avoid that blocking.
What are the limits of these Mini Programs?
So far as we know about these Mini Programs or Mini Apps, we have noticed some limits:
- At the moment, the available apps are mainly in Chinese.
- These apps are quite simple.
- They cannot be used to design mobile gaming apps.
One of the features of WeChat is the WeChat Moments but here the WeChat mini-programs cannot be shared on it. The sharing feature is limited to the groups and individuals.
What is the difference between Mini Programs and Official Accounts?
The main difference between those two is that for Official Accounts the users have to subscribe to have the news or the info of the company they want to follow. While “Mini Program” you just need to scan the QR code and there is no other action required.
That means here with the Mini Programs there is not the relationship with the followers that we can find with the Official Accounts.
What is the difference between Mini Programs and mobile apps?
There are some differences between the Mini Programs and mobile apps. The first one, has already said, is there is no need for a download and we do not need to look after it in a app store.
The second one is about the cost of development. Indeed, it seems that the cost of a Mini-Program is only about 20% of the cost of the development of a native app.
What could be the future of these Mini Programs?
These Mini Programs have features such as: no app store, simplicity to add in your wechat and to delete them. If they can develop them and make them more complex, WeChat can have absolute dominance on this market. “Mini Progam” will become a part of the life of every developer and then they could become the main way to use “apps”.
Another impact will be for the other app stores. If these apps become more and more sophisticated and famous they could compete with iOS and Android and it could be even the end of the app stores that we know so far.
What are the most downloaded Mini Programs?
At the moment the most downloaded Mini Programs are:
- Hangzhou Plus: help expats who lives in Hangzhou - HZPlus
- McDonald’s Discount Coupons: have some discount - 麦当劳优惠券
- Tencent Surveys: do some survey - 腾讯投票
- Mobike: for the bikes in the city - 摩拜单车
- Sleepy Sounds: help you to sleep - 小睡眠
Scan this QR code to try the Sleepy Sounds in the Mini Programs:
What is the situation at the moment?
The last information we get about these Mini Programs is that it seems they have lost interest after a few week of availability. Can we see as a real indicator of the unpopularity of them? Nobody can be sure at the moment so let’s see what the future can offer us.
What will be your next step?
If you have any questions, interest about these Mini Programs or even the interest to create your own app, do not hesitate to contact us.