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Apple launches WeChat store in China

BusinessApple launches WeChat store in China

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Apple launched an official WeChat Mini Program in China to sell its products. WeChat is China’s biggest messaging app and is operated by Tencent.

Vcg | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Apple on Tuesday launched an online store on Tencent’s WeChat messaging app in China, as the iPhone giant steps up the expansion of its retail channels in one of its most important markets.

WeChat is China’s biggest messaging platform with over 1.2 billion users. It is often referred to as a “super app,” because it goes beyond just instant messaging. Users can access so-called “Mini Programs,” which are effectively apps within WeChat. That means users don’t need to download loads of different apps, but can instead access all the services they need from within WeChat.

Apple’s WeChat store is in the form of a Mini Program.

Users can purchase the full line of Apple products including the latest iPhone 14 range through the Mini Program, Tencent said in a statement. Orders via WeChat are eligible for free shipping, and some users can pay for three-hour delivery.

Tencent said that customers can also access some other Apple services, like the trade-in program.

Apple and Tencent did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Apple tightly controls its retail channels, but has been ramping up its presence on China’s biggest internet platforms over the past few years. Apple has an official store on Tmall, the e-commerce site operated by Alibaba. Meanwhile, JD.com, China’s second-largest online retailer, is an official reseller of Apple products.

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IPhone sales have remained quite resilient in China in spite of a tough market overall. Smartphone sales fell 5% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, reaching the lowest first-quarter sales figure since 2014, according to Counterpoint Research. Apple’s iPhone sales grew 6% year-on-year, Counterpoint said.

Still Apple is looking to reach more customers. WeChat is ubiquitous in Chinese society with people using it for everything from messaging to booking flights and paying bills.

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