This is Part 4 of a 9-part essay series on Apple’s Success in China. Part 1 introduces the essay series. Part 2 explains Apple’s product-zeitgeist fit in China. Part 3 looks at product localization. Part 4 looks at Apple’s services in China and relationship with Tencent. Part 5 looks at the complexities of operating in China. Part 6 and Part 7 look at Apple’s compliance efforts in respect of the App Store and iCloud respectively. Part 8 looks at Apple’s investment in DiDi. Part 9 concludes with lessons from Apple’s experience in China.
This part will first discuss Apple’s services strategy in China. In brief, Apple’s services do very poorly in China, many of which are banned, regulated or generally perform poorly relative to Chinese companies providing similar services. It will then discuss Apple’s subtle and tricky relationship with Tencent, the titular frenemy.
Apple’s Services Strategy
Beginning in the fiscal year of 2015, Apple started to break out “services” as a distinct component in its financial statements to “show the full size, scope, growth, and make comments on the profitability of it from a transparency point of view”, marking the start of what is known as Apple’s “services narrative”. According to Apple’s 10-K, such services included digital content stores and streaming services (e.g. iBooks, Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+, and the various App Stores), iCloud, Apple Arcade, Apple Card, Apple Pay, and (somewhat awkwardly) AppleCare. Revenues from Internet software services are typically valued more highly than hardware revenues because of their presumably higher margins. 1
There is strategic tension between a services-based business model and a hardware-based business model: “the former ought to maximize their addressable market (by, say, making a cheaper iPhone), while the latter ought to maximize their differentiation”. Apple’s services narrative is significant because it represents a departure from its earlier narrative as a premium hardware manufacturer, a narrative that has served it well during the years in which iPhone sales saw explosive growth. As the smartphone market matures, Apple has seen unit sales of the iPhone slow and possibly ultimately stagnate (in 2018 Q4, Apple announced that it will no longer report unit sales of its main hardware divisions). Apple also does not disclose statistics on the installed base of iPhone. Apple’s focus on narrative could be understood as an attempt to increase its average revenue per user. There are many intricacies in assessing Apple’s services narrative that we will not explore because of limited relevance for our purposes.
Returning to our focus on China, The selection of services available in the Chinese market is remarkably limited. This part will discuss the iMessage, App Store, Apple Music and Apple Pay in greater detail. The issues surrounding iCloud and Apple’s aborted iTunes Movies and iBooks will be discussed in greater detail in subsequent parts of this essay series.
In a sense, the availability and success of App Store and iCloud in China is unremarkable as they are integral to core functions of the modern smartphone (downloading third party apps and cloud backups). Beyond these, Apple has had no real “successful services” in China.
In light of China’s restrictive media and financial sector, one can safely conclude that Apple News+, Apple TV+ and Apple card are unlikely to launch in China. The only service that might still stand a chance of success in China is Apple Arcade, a gaming subscription service (China is the largest mobile gaming market in the world). Unfortunately, China was not among the countries where the service was available at launch and I could not find publicly information on this omission.
iMessage: The Dog that Did Not Bark
As a prelude to the subsequent discussion on Tecent (and WeChat), a brief note should be made here on “the dog that did not bark” that is iMessage. Whereas Apple’s iMessage service is a crucial lock-in to Apple’s hardware in the US—where carriers typically offer unlimited SMS and thus iMessage is easily integrated into users’ texting habits—its market share in China is basically non-existent, where WeChat dominates the messaging market. In China, where carriers typically charge for SMS usage, iMessage’s lack of success could superficially be attributed to the afore-mentioned tension between service and hardware: Apple’s device-centric messaging app could not have matched the network effect of Tencent’s device-agnostic WeChat.
However, the compliance angle is probably more important: iMessage is unlikely to meet Chinese laws and regulations requiring a greater degree of content supervision than is technically possible on iMessage’s end-to-end encrypted, privacy-oriented design. As such, interestingly, iMessage remains one of the few end-to-end encrypted messaging service that is officially available but, somewhat paradoxically, whose availability is premised on its lack of mass adoption. Understandably, unlike other services, Apple has also barely promoted the service within China or customized it to fit the preferences of Chinese users (indeed, iMessage is relatively basic compared to other messaging apps, speaking to Apple’s weakness in services more generally). Thus, it preserves the convenience for non-Chinese users to continue using iMessage within China while minimizing the regulatory burden that comes from offering such a service to Chinese users at scale.
More generally, this speaks to Apple’s compromise in its services strategy more generally. The highly competitive Chinese tech ecosystem largely exists at the Internet services layer and thus does not compete directly with Apple. At the same time, because of their distinctiveness and effectiveness at catering to Chinese consumers, they threaten to commoditize the smartphone layer at which Apple primarily operates. As such, as we will see, Apple is willing to make substantial compromises to ensure that it expands its services within China in order to ensure the differentiation of its hardware.
iMessage’s privacy-oriented features are also a good point to launch off a discussion of Apple’s strategy to distinguish itself on the basis of its commitment to customer privacy. Apple’s decision to do so can be largely attributed to US discourse that has soured against tech giants such as Google and Facebook for their perceived intrusive and cavalier treatment of user privacy. Thompson has called this a strategy credit, i.e. an uncomplicated decision that makes a company look good relative to other companies who face much more significant trade-offs. This is because Apple’s business model—selling highly differentiated premium hardware directly to consumers—does not rely on user data, unlike the advertising-based business models of Google and Facebook.
But Thompson’s “strategy credit” observation is not true in respect of Apple’s China business. The tension between Apple’s emphasis on privacy and Chinese regulations will be explored in greater extent later in this essay series. The fact that Apple retains “Privacy” as part of its brand and marketing in China is remarkable. On the one hand, its removal would have been conspicuous and draw too much unwanted attention.2 On the other hand, some of the services listed as having privacy advantages—Maps and iMessage, for instance—are neither widely used in China nor heavily promoted by Apple, likely a reflection of this tension. I have also been unable to find convincing evidence on the extent to which Apple users in China are motivated by Apple’s privacy-focused branding.
Notably, for the first generation of iPhone, there was no way for third-party developers to create their own applications. As Lashinsky puts it, “the App Store was not Apple’s first instinct”. 3
This underscored the extent to which Apple’s organizational makeup was geared towards making integrated hardware, rather than open software platforms. This possibly reflected Apple’s anxiety towards irreplaceable third-party applications that might compete for the loyalty of Apple’s users, an anxiety born out of Apple’s bad days in the late 1990s, when Steve Job publicly acknowledged Apple’s dependence on Adobe and Microsoft for Photoshop and Microsoft Office respectively.
Strategically, Apple also insists on providing key apps on its devices and wary of its devices becoming a commoditized hardware that run third-party applications. However, once Apple noticed the tendency of developers to jailbreak their iPhones to run their own unauthorized programs and learned of Google’s intention to create an applications store with Android, it quickly created the App Store.
Today, the App Store has become both a key source of strategic leverage and a driver of revenues in its own right.
First, the App Store provides two-sided network effect for users and developers. The more iPhone users there are, the more willing developers are to spend their limited resources building applications on the App Store. This greater availability of applications in turn attract users to the iPhone, thus creating a positive feedback loop. This explains why, as the smartphone market saturates, iOS and Android has come to dominate as they are the only two platforms to have the critical mass to enjoy this network effect, whereas previous competitors like RIM’s Blackberry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone has fallen by the wayside and prospective competitors have difficulty starting a third smartphone operating system. (See e.g. Huawei’s HarmonyOS or the recent attempt by Chinese smartphone manufacturers to create an alternative to the Google Play Store.)
Second, due to the iPhone’s popularity among users with the highest ability and willingness to pay, mobile app developers necessarily have to develop for iOS. Unlike Android, the primary way to install third party software on iOS is via the App Store (unless the phone is jailbroken and with exceptions made for through an enterprise certificate program). Taking both points together, this gives Apple great leverage via its App Store Review Guidelines to dictate terms to developers and control the apps that iPhone users can use. Apple justifies this control in terms of protecting the security and privacy of iPhone users, but this same control can also be used to enforce controversial or monopolistic policies. Apple’s application of this control to comply with Chinese regulations will discussed in a later part.
Apple monetizes the App Store in two ways. First, it takes a 30% commission from developers for digital goods and services delivered though an app (lowered to a 15% commission for recurring subscriptions in the second year and thereafter). Second, it sells App Store Search Ads to developers looking to increase users. As Apple does not itself break out these statistics in terms of games vs non-games or the various geographies, the following discussion relies heavily on third party research. But it is generally accepted that commission revenues are much larger than ad revenues and are themselves primarily driven by gaming revenues.
Apple’s approach to App Store’s payment system also reflects a significant shift from the Jobs era to the Cook era.
During the Jobs era, the mainland Chinese App Store only accepted USD credit card as a mode of payment, something that is obviously unavailable to most Chinese consumers. On November 2011, the App Store accepted credit cards issued by multiple Chinese banks, before accepting UnionPay more generally on November 2014. Before the rise of digital payments, Chinese consumer typically did not have credit cards. To that end, Apple sold gift cards through a network of offline distributors to facilitate the purchase of digital goods and services on the App Store. Alipay was accepted as a mode of payment in November 2016, and WeChat Pay in August 2017.
From these humble beginnings, China has grown to become the main driver of App Store revenues. According to App Annie’s report in October 2016, China had overtaken the United States in terms of App Store revenue in 2016 Q3, spending $1.7 billion compared to $1.5 billion by US users, a growth driven by games.
China’s App Store revenue further increased in subsequent years. According to Macquarie Research’s analyst note in February 2018, “smartphone gaming in China is so big that revenue from it accounted for an estimated 10% of Apple’s global services revenue” and “saw 270% growth in two years” such that it was double the size of US App Store revenues.
The explosion in mobile game revenues, particularly in Asian markets (according to App Annie, games from China, Japan, and South Korea dominate the top 10 highest-grossing iOS games), have benefited Apple hugely.
On the flipside, this leaves Apple’s services revenue quite exposed to China’s gaming-related regulations. For example, the Chinese government slowed down its approval of gaming licenses in 2018, putting a drag on Apple’s services revenue.
By and large, as far as I could tell, Apple does not take a proactive approach to specifically boost its China App Store revenues. One plausible explanation is that, due to Apple’s commission-based structure, the developer receiving 70% of the revenue is well-incentivized to, say, lobby for regulatory approval of games. As there is no way for these revenues to bypass Apple’s payment system, Apple can afford a more passive approach.
Recently, Apple decided to more strictly enforce the Chinese government policy of requiring video games to apply for an ISBN number before entering circulation, a move that is likely to affect small, independent studios and firms that create “sockpuppet games” (马甲包), i.e. “publishing a troop of clones with similar gameplay and mask their appearance with altered names, logos and characters to gain more traffic and revenue”. Apple’s previously lax enforcement could be explained by its standing to gain from the revenues generated by these games that did not receive official approval
Released in September 2015, Apple Music is the only digital content service that Apple operates in China today. This is likely because music is a less sensitive media format compared to books and films. While I have been unable to find authoritative statistics on Apple Music’s market share in China, it is fair to say that Apple Music is not a success in China.
As noted in Part 2, Chinese domestic companies are highly competitive in purely digital verticals and Chinese consumers have tastes and preferences that depart significantly from their Western counterparts. This is certainly true as regards music streaming. Based on my personal experience, Apple Music in China retains its global user interface and costs much less than subscriptions in other markets to remain price competitive in China. Nonetheless, this is still a tough sell in a Chinese market where the entry level of many music streaming services is free (and supported by ads) and the major players (QQ Music, NetEase Music, Xiami, Kugou etc.) compete for the license to stream popular songs exclusively.
For the foreseeable future, this status quo will persist. In contrast with the revenues from the App Store, the revenues generated from a “successful” Apple Music are unlikely to make much of a difference to Apple’s China revenues and, given that music streaming in China is already hugely competitive, there is no economically viable way for Apple Music to succeed anyway. Apple has likely already paid the copyright fees and fixed costs of developing Apple Music app to serve Apple Music users in other geographies (e.g. Taiwan, Hong Kong and overseas Chinese), which would suggest its marginal cost is lower than a genuinely standalone service.
In anticipation of fuller discussion of Apple’s compliance strategy later in this essay series, the mainland Chinese version of Apple Music has also removed songs by Hong Kong singers, ostensibly because of the song’s politically sensitive lyrics or the singers’ professed support for the 2014 Umbrella Movement. These songs are available to users of Apple Music in Hong Kong, Taiwan and North America. Such a compromise is consistent with Apple’s general approach towards compliance and public relations in China, as we will see in later sections.
On 17 December 2015, Apple announced it would launch Apple Pay in China, which was subsequently available on 18 February 2016. Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service that uses near field communication (NFC) in Apple devices to make payments in real life and an operating system-level integration to make payments online and in certain apps.
Online sources suggested that in Apple’s agreement with the Chinese state-owned banks, Apple accepted payments of 0.07% of each transaction, compared with the 0.15% of each purchase Apple gets from banks in the United States, and these payments will only be made to Apple in two years’ time. The reason for this differential is unclear and it is speculated that Apple was willing to accept less favorable terms in order to hasten the roll-out of Apple Pay. To understand Apple’s rationale for accepting such a significant compromise, it is necessary to understand Apple Pay’s strategic positioning.
Most of the analysis compared Apple Pay to the digital payment war that was then sweeping through China, which has now attained a duopolistic equilibrium between Alipay and WeChat Pay and rendered the typical card-based payment system found in other countries obsolete. Instead of going into the relative advantages of NFC vs QR code or the lack of peer-to-peer payment functionality on Apple Pay, it is more important to note that Apple Pay was never really competing with Alipay and WeChat Pay. Recall the earlier strategic tension between hardware differentiation and widely adopted services. The latter was never possible, considering that Apple Pay is only available on Apple devices, whose high-end nature means it will only have a small share of the overall smartphone market, especially considering the Chinese market is still significantly less developed compared to other countries on a per capita basis. Like iMessage in the US, Apple Pay is not meant to be a revenue driver in its own right, but rather an additional feature to iOS users that differentiates the user experience from Android.
Two pieces of evidence supports this analysis.
First, Alibaba announced that Alipay will be accepted in Apple Stores in China, marking “the first time Apple has allowed retail store purchases to be made with a third-party mobile wallet app” (Li and Jourdan, 2018). If Apple genuinely intended for Apple Pay to compete with Alipay, this would have never happened. From my personal experience, I tried to complete a purchase at an Apple Store using Apple Pay and it did not work. So, I ended up using Alipay instead. At risk of reading too much into an isolated experience, this shows that Apple Pay was not intended to replace digital payments in China generally.
Second, Apple Pay in China is only available on devices running iOS and not macOS, unlike in most other regions where it is available on both.4 Apple Pay on iOS is distinguished by its use of NFC: the goal of Apple Pay is to tap into iOS’s hardware-based NFC-enabled functionalities that would differentiate iPhones from other smartphones. For example, Apple Pay can serve as a digital wallet, to which public transit cards of Beijing and Shanghai could be added and topped up, thus removing the need to carry a separate transit card. Similarly, UnionPay credit card added to Apple Pay wallet could be used to pay for public transit in Guangzhou and Hangzhou via NFC.
As such, Apple is willing to compromise by accepting lower commission fees from Chinese state-owned banks. Notwithstanding, this thesis submits that Apple Pay has failed to achieve this purported strategic benefit of differentiation. I could not find authoritative statistics on the adoption of Apple Pay within China. But as far as I can tell, the degree of differentiation it brings to the iPhone is nontrivial but limited. NFC-enabled functionalities like using Apple Pay for public transit can be and are being replicated using native apps and QR codes, even if the overall user experience is slightly inferior to using Apple Pay.
Apple and Tencent
Finally, we shall examine Apple’s relationship with Tencent. This examination sheds light not only on Apple’s services strategy, but its China strategy more generally.
For context, Tencent, along with Alibaba, is one of the two tech giants that dominate China’s tech landscape. There is not enough space now to outline the conglomerate’s various activities and wide-ranging, all-encompassing competition with Alibaba. For our purposes, it suffices to note that Tencent’s products both complement and compete with Apple.
On the one hand, the range of Tencent products built around WeChat (messaging, Public Accounts, WeChat Pay, Mini-Programs etc.) amounts to something of an “operating system layer” to Chinese digital life that is device-agnostic, thus reducing the differentiation provided by Apple as a hardware manufacturer. Indeed, Thompson goes so far as to argue because it is WeChat and not the phone’s operating system that is the “most important layer of the smartphone stack” in China, this explains Apple’s China revenues greater sensitivity to industrial design and Apple’s supposedly lower retention rate in China compared to that in the rest of the world. I was unable to find authoritative statistics of iPhone’s and other manufacturer’s retention rates in China to support this assertion, but it does ring true anecdotally.
On the other hand, Tencent is the largest game publisher in the world as well as the owner of multiple digital content services (e.g. QQ Music, Tencent Video, WeChat Read) that are popular in China. Insofar as these services make money through direct payments from iOS users, they also contribute to Apple’s App Store revenue.
Also, Apple and Tencent also collaborate together to provide Apple’s Safe Browsing feature on iOS Safari, which will display a warning if the website visited by the user is a suspected phishing website. To do this, Apple “checks addresses against an existing list of sites known to be problematic” and this list “is maintained by Tencent for users in mainland China and by Google for other regions”. After criticism that Apple might be sharing data with Tencent, Apple clarified that “the checks occur on the devices, and the actual web addresses are never shared with Tencent and Google, the safe browsing providers”.
The interactions between Apple and Tencent must be seen in light of this “frenemy” relationship. Two episodes illustrate this.
Mini-Programs: Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object
The first episode is WeChat’s Mini-Programs, which allows applications smaller than 10 MB to run instantly within WeChat.5
Predictably, WeChat’s Mini-Programs is an enduring source of tension between Tencent and Apple and gives credence to WeChat’s ambition to become a cross-platform mobile operating system in China. It provides developers a way to reach users without going through Apple’s App Store Review, reducing Apple’s leverage (and avoiding the annual fee to be part of Apple’s Developer Program). For users, Mini-Programs allows users to launch an app rapidly without making the “commitment” to download an app.
It is unclear whether WeChat’s Mini-Programs comply with Apple’s policies, which was updated in June 2017 to emphasize that apps cannot offer a “store or store-like interface”.
On the one hand, Mini-Programs ostensibly comply with Apple’s policy on digital payment. iOS users must use Apple’s payment system, through which Apple levies a 30% commission and, unlike Android, cannot see non-Apple payment options like WeChat Pay. (The following discussion on tipping adds a further complication.) So, at least in this respect, Apple’s services revenues is not directly impacted. The 10 MB file-size limitation means that more sophisticated applications must still be downloaded as a native app.
On the other hand, Mini-Programs are not subject to the same type of operating-system-level safeguards of native apps. As long as the user has granted permission to WeChat for, say, using GPS, developers of Mini-Program can free-ride upon this permission by using WeChat’s APIs. This is ostensibly a violation of Apple’s App Store rules, which require programs based on third-party code to only use capabilities available in WebKit, open-source software Apple used to develop its Safari Web browser. Mini-programs have access to additional capabilities like scanning for QR codes, audio recording and Bluetooth scanning. Tencent has gradually added features to mini-programs, such as 3-D graphics, augmented reality and live streaming.
In terms of the leverage each side possesses, neither side are loathe to exercise the nuclear option on the other, especially in light of the other mutually beneficial areas of cooperation between Tencent and Apple. WeChat has become so deeply engrained into Chinese Internet that an iPhone without WeChat obvious would not sell in China. Conversely, as mentioned in Part 2, iPhones remain highly popular among Chinese users. A good reference point might be the so-called “3Q War”, a dispute between Tencent and Qihoo that forced users to choose side and negatively impacted public perception of Tencent.
Much goes on behind the scenes. After Apple intentionally slowed its approval of WeChat’s iOS updates, in 2017, a team from Tencent visited Apple visited Cupertino to broker peace by arguing that Mini-Programs were too basic to compete with native apps and were “more like appetizers to a main course”. This is still very much a live issue pending resolution.
The long-term impact of Mini-Programs on Apple—a concept that has since been taken up by other Chinese tech companies, such as Alibaba’s Alipay—remains to be seen.
According to The Information:
At the same time, the number of iOS apps downloaded in China in 2019 has fallen 12% from a peak of 9.3 billion in 2017, according to Sensor Tower. That compares with an increase of 22% to 7.1 billion apps downloaded in the U.S. over the same period. And developers are making fewer new apps for iPhone users in China. The number of iOS apps available in China as of February was down 20% from a peak of 1.84 million in 2018, Chinese government data shows. Meanwhile, App Store revenue growth in China has slowed to 11% in 2019 from triple-digit growth rates in 2015 and 2016, according to analytics firm App Annie.
How much is possible within this 10MB limit? How will Chinese app developers make the choice between native apps and mini-programs? Will Tencent (and/or Alibaba) seek to bend other rules even further in their favor? How will the additional bandwidth enabled by 5G affect these competitive dynamics?
Tipping Dispute: Chinese Internet vs Apple
The second episode is the tipping dispute between WeChat—as well as many other Chinese social networks, such as Toutiao, UC News, Weibo, Momo, and Yingke—on the one hand and Apple the other. A tipping culture has evolved on many of these social networking services, whereby users voluntarily “tip” digital content providers to show their appreciation. In April 2017, these companies took down their tipping functions on iOS as Apple updated its App Store policy and insisted that tipping had to go through its “in-app purchase” system, through which it can levy its 30% commission.
In September 2017, however, Apple backed down and added the following exception: “Apps may enable individual users to give a monetary gift to another individual without using in-app purchase, provided that (a) the gift is a completely optional choice by the giver, and (b) 100% of the funds go to the receiver of the gift. However, a gift that is connected to or associated at any point in time with receiving digital content or services must use in-app purchase.” However, apps whose tipping system requires users to first deposit currencies must still go through Apple’s in-app purchase system. Thereafter, tipping on iOS was gradually restored.
Much of these interactions occurred behind the scenes so any conclusions here are necessarily speculative. Industry rumors suggested that Chinese antitrust regulators received complaints alleging that Apple was engaging in abuse of monopoly power and unfair competition over this tipping dispute. This could explain why Apple, which generally dictates terms to its developers, chose to compromise.
As Apple’s App Store policy apply globally, this can be plausibly construed an example of the Chinese Internet ecosystem having a broader impact outside of China. But this point should not be overstated: it is precisely because of China’s mature mobile payment infrastructure, exemplified by WeChat Pay and Alipay, that apps have a viable method of bypassing the App Store’s payment infrastructure in the first place. As such, Apple’s ostensible compromise is actually fairly limited and Apple continue to insist on all other forms of payments on iOS devices to go through their in-app purchase system.
In light of the foregoing, it is fair to conclude that Apple’s services strategy has mostly done poorly in China’s highly competitive Internet services ecosystem. Beyond the core services of App Store and iCloud, it is difficult to consider any of Apple’s services a success.
In tech, there is a general theme of value increasingly moving up the stack, from mainframe in the IBM days, to PC in the Wintel days, to search (Google) and social (Facebook) today. Apple has managed to maintain its dominance these changes precisely because of its vertically integrated business model that produces hardware with a sufficiently differentiated user experience.
The emergence of WeChat that threatens to commoditize the complementary hardware layer fits neatly within this theme.6 In Chinese internet circle, his has come to be know as 降维打击 (“dimension-reduction attack”), whose origins can be traced to After Liu Cixin’s highly successful Three Body Problem sci-fi novel.7
I believe the threat of WeChat is probably somewhat overstated. Insofar as WeChat remains in the world of bits (and mobile at that), rather than atoms, core aspects of the differentiated user experience, such as integration with other Apple hardware devices (Mac, but also Apple Watch, AirPods etc.), remain intact.
While Western tech circles have only recently come to realize the many ways in which WeChat has surpassed comparable apps in the West, within China, it has become fashionable to criticize WeChat for its slow rate of innovation.8 Anecdotally, almost all new product features must must gain the approval of Allen Zhang, who is very thoughtful but also instinctively against overt monetization of WeChat and insists upon its tool-like characteristics.
Returning to Apple, it is trite to argue that Apple should seek to expand its services strategy in China in order to protect its core hardware business. However, trade-offs are real: the Internet services sector is already highly competitive in China and Apple’s poor track record in services is arguably an inevitable result of an organization devoted to excellence in hardware.
- The one exception is AppleCare, which is a warranty program and will not be considered a “service” for our purposes.
- Interestingly, Apple has chosen to translate its “privacy is a fundamental human right” quite differently in different regions of Greater China, likely a result of the relative sensitivity of human rights discourse in China.
- Adam Lashinsky (2012) Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–and Secretive–Company Really Works.
- I was unable to find any official explanation for this omission.
- It is widely speculated that the name “Mini-Program (小程序) was chosen instead of “Mini-App” (小应用) in order to comply with Apple’s rules.
- There is something about centralized vs distributed computing that does not quite fit this theme as nicely.
- Ostensibly, there is even an entry on China’s MBAlib on this.
- In this respect, perhaps there is something to be said about WeChat being the Twitter of China.