Apple is expanding its online retail presence in China, through a new initiative that integrates the Apple Store experience directly inside China’s incredibly popular ‘super app’, WeChat.
The Apple Store ‘mini-program’ will let customers buy Apple products like iPhones, iPads and Macs directly through WeChat for the first time (via TechCrunch).
WeChat is colloquially described as a ‘super app’, as alongside the core social networking and messaging features, it contains an app store of sorts. Inside the main WeChat application, an expansive collection of ‘mini apps’ (more directly translated as mini programs) are available for users to enjoy.
Much of the Chinese economy is run through WeChat, including things like booking transportation and financial banking services. The Apple Store is now joining that list.
Somewhat ironically, many pundits believe that a ‘super app’ akin to WeChat would not be allowed to establish itself inside the United States, due to App Review rules.
The App Review Guidelines explicit disallow “creating an interface for displaying third-party apps, extensions, or plug-ins similar to the App Store or as a general-interest collection.” However, Apple has turned somewhat of a blind eye to the situation with WeChat in China, due to its incredible dominance of the culture.
We have seen Apple try various new digital marketing strategies in the region of late, including running shopping live streams to promote iPhone 14 sales. It is obviously hoping that the new Apple Store WeChat app will also help drive more sales.
Although Apple does not disclose unit sales numbers, analyst generally believe its growth in China has tapered off. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, revenue from the Greater China region was down 3% year-over-year.
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