Date
11 December 2016
Tencent’s “little program” can attract tens of millions of young Chinese programmers to create products on the platform, and some of them may one day turn out to be as successful as the company’s founder Pony Ma. Photo: HKEJ
Tencent’s “little program” can attract tens of millions of young Chinese programmers to create products on the platform, and some of them may one day turn out to be as successful as the company’s founder Pony Ma. Photo: HKEJ

Tencent ‘little program’ could revolutionize software business

China’s internet giant Tencent has rolled out a new platform called Xiaochengxu, or “little program”, which offers development tools for people to build sub-apps within its messaging platform WeChat.

Nowadays, everyone can be a writer or reporter using social networking platforms.

This little program may do the same to programming, allowing anyone to easily create and post their programs on a platform and share them through WeChat.

It is said that programmers using the platform can also tap into Tencent’s big data.

Mobile apps and software we use everyday are all programming products.

In the past, one had to start a firm if they wanted to develop such products and sell them to the public.

They must also manage different operational and business issues.

Little Program is supposed to take care of all that, essentially removing a major barrier for startups.

The market potential can be huge if people can come up with all kinds of software to help solve daily problems, like making it easier to book an appointment with a doctor, or providing instant translation service for mainlanders as they travel abroad.

The project is still in its infancy. But if one day it becomes a big ecosystem, it could generate serious money for Tencent as it could charge for the storage service it provides and the internet traffic it channels to the platform.

Tencent could also earn fees for providing online security and marketing services as well as charge for access to its pool of big data.

Also, through the platform, the tech giant may discover startups with big potentials and get the chance to buy them out.

Such an initiative will also benefit China.

Since the country is losing its cost competitiveness to other emerging countries as it gradually runs out of cheap labor, tapping on tens of millions of software engineers it has trained up in recent years might be its best calling card in the internet era.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 21.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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