The multitude of messaging announcements this week has raised some interesting questions about the future of social networks in China in general and the fate of WeChat in particular. The WeChat team—and Tencent as a whole—should be worried about Bytedance products taking more and more user attention, but Bytedance’s platform play just isn’t enough to topple the reigning champion.

To say that WeChat is the Chinese internet is certainly an exaggeration, but it’s still pretty darn close. But the Chinese internet is hungry, perhaps even starving, for something new. In the era of rapid heating and cooling consumer tech cycles, China’s young mobile users expect their experience to constantly improve and seek out new forms of “play” that hold their attention.

WeChat has changed dramatically since it was first released in 2011. From simple messaging formats like Kik and WhatsApp at the beginning, to voice and video messages, short videos (aka WeChat’s Sights), QR codes, a Facebook-like feed Moments, to mini programs and now the WeChat version of Stories and UI overhaul in 7.0, which launched two days before Christmas.

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...