As China’s massive Spring Festival holiday approaches, the folks at Tencent WeChat have been busy pressing the delete key on links between their app and a number of Alibaba services.
First, Sina Tech reported that WeChat had shut down a sharing like with Alibaba’s Alipay that allowed Alipay users to send digital Spring Festival red envelopes of money to WeChat friends. Now, it appears WeChat has also shut down sharing connections with Alibaba music apps Xiami and Tiantian Dongting, meaning users can no longer share content from those apps directly with their WeChat friends.
The Alipay closure is less of a surprise, as the two companies have been slugging it out over red envelopes for a couple of years now. WeChat has its own red-envelope-sending service, so stopping Alipay users from sending money easily to their WeChat friends makes some sense. If WeChat users can’t send money through Alipay, they might just send it through WeChat’s built-in service. That way Tencent, rather than Alibaba, earns money from the transaction. And with the Spring Festival holiday fast approaching, red envelope transactions will soon reach their yearlong high.
It’s less clear why WeChat has closed its sharing connections with Alibaba music apps Xiami and Tiantian Dongting. No app-specific reason is apparent, but Tencent and Alibaba have been rivals for some time. Now it seems Tencent is declaring all-out war on Alibaba, and shutting down the connections between Alibaba’s apps and its own uber-popular social platform.
Alibaba’s Alipay certainly can’t be happy about being cut out of the loop, but short of a successful lawsuit – which could take years to arbitrate – it’s difficult to see what the company can do to combat it. There’s no denying that WeChat is a much stronger social network than anything Alibaba offers. When it comes to sending money or music to friends online, it seems likely many users will choose to do that via their favorite social network.
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