CHiCHi (left) is a ‘social virtual pet’. It immediately reminds me of QQ Pet, a ‘virtual penguin’ Tencent launched around 2005 and made tons of money through virtual item sales for the company for the next years. Back then almost every girl I knew of was raising the animated penguin who was living on the PC desktop, interacting with it and buying it everything, ranging from costumes to medicine, with real money.
The same with QQ Pet, you need to feed the CHiCHi or take it to do excise, and, you can BUY books, hats or sunglasses for it.
Living in the mobile Internet era, CHiCHi is ‘social’ that there is a game, I Love CHiCHi, developed for it. Users can team up with Facebook friends and challenge other teams. The credits won from the game can be used to buy gifts for CHiCHis.
Not only is it a game, it’s an app recommender. The Shanghai-based company, DiggerLab, behind CHiCHi designed it for girls. They reckon most girls are not tech-savvy and cannot be expert at exploring mobile apps. CHiCHi will recommend apps girls may like and some apps will be integrated into CHiCHi. Now the little penguin can broadcast weather conditions and help girls with photo shooting. Calender, to-do list manager and address book will be added later.
As a new species, CHiCHi isn’t alone. Mengchong 360 is another one developed by another Shanghai-based company. The only difference between them is they are living on different planets: CHiCHi is on iOS while the other on Android. I don’t know how come the two companies came up with the same idea. However, they do have one difference: Mengchong360 is targeting at the local market while CHiCHi currently aims at users outside China.
Han Xiaoguang, CEO and co-founder of DiggerLab told us that they’d start from overseas markets is because competitions in the local market is damn fierce, not mature and hard for small teams like their company to survive — there already has been a couple of similar products in China market. Before returning to Shanghai in 2011, he had lived in Tokyo for ten years. With some seed fund, he and his team built a social Q&A product in Shanghai, but didn’t see income would come any time soon. So they shifted to CHiCHi at the end of 2012. I Love CHiCHi is sold for $0.99 and all the virtual items created will bring in revenues.