China ranks a new tech challenger: Zidan Duanxin

China’s growing band of challengers to Tencent and Alibaba has added a new member to its ranks: an app that is taking aim at the messaging world dominated by WeChat. Zidan Duanxin is barely two weeks old but it has already become China’s most downloaded free app in the Apple store… This has prompted WeChat, the Tencent-owned platform with 1 billion user accounts, to improve its own voice to text translation… The app had been downloaded about 7.2 million times by Friday… Zidan Duanxin, which means “bullet message” in Chinese, raised Rmb150 million ($22 million) in just seven days ahead of its launch. It is the brainchild of Luo Yonghao, a 46-year-old former English teacher who also goes by the nickname “Fatty Luo”. Mr Luo has built a wide following as an entrepreneur… Messaging is a challenging sector to disrupt, with even Alibaba struggling repeatedly to build a social network capable of taking on WeChat. Mr Luo, in a post on social media site Weibo, conceded that “uninstalling WeChat is not realistic”. But like analysts and hardcore fans, Mr Luo believes Zidan Duanxin can become a niche product without needing to topple its biggest rival.


Louise Lucas and Sherry Fei Ju