China’s Telecoms to Charge for WeChat?


China’s state-run telecom companies are no strangers to angry customers, who complain loudly and often about poor service or hidden charges. But the companies experienced a new level of consumer rage over the weekend as rumors emerged that they’re working on a plan to charge for the use of the country’s most popular free mobile application, which they did not develop and do not operate.

The application in question is WeChat, a messaging and social media program created by China’s largest listed Internet company Tencent. Since its introduction two years ago, the app, which allows users to send voice and text messages and also share photos with groups of contacts, has accrued more than 300 million users.

It’s not just Apple (although there may be some anti-US tit-for-tat1 in Apple’s case). It’s State-owned Enterprises (SOEs), like China Mobile, against tech companies.

Any Apple observer should closely follow stories involving SOEs and tech companies closely, for a very simple reason:

Benedict Evans, Twitter
Benedict Evans, Twitter

What’s China Mobile worth to Apple? $100/share? $200? All we know is that Cook deemed it worth an apology.

  1. There’s also a good discussion in that article about Apple’s PR weakness