Apple Launches Online Store Through WeChat in China

Apple has launched an online store via the WeChat messaging app in China. In a bid to further expand and support retail in the country, this mini-app version of the Apple Store should prove to be very important.

WeChat is a messaging tool owned by conglomerate Tencent. It currently has over 1.2 billion users. The new Apple Store “mini-program” lands alongside WeChat’s many mini-apps that are baked into it, as reported by CNBC.

The software is far from limited to just text-based utility. Instead, many refer to WeChat as a “super app.” Users are able to access “Mini Programs” via WeChat directly instead of having to install different apps to their device. WeChat acts as a portal to the various apps instead. China runs a ton of its economy through WeChat with users making purchases and using banking services.

Apple’s new retail mini program will reportedly include the ability to shop and purchase the full line of Apple products, including iPhone 14. Through WeChat, users are eligible for free shipping and some users can even pay for three-hour delivery. On top of purchases, the Apple Store app is able to provide trade-in services amongst other tools the Apple Store handles.

Interestingly enough, Apple’s very own App Review Guidelines would strictly prohibit this type of third-party app from launching in North America. Per Apple’s own rules, “creating an interface for displaying third-party apps, extensions, or plug-ins similar to the App Store or as a general-interest collection” is prohibited. Though, it’s possible that Apple made an exception since it is a first-part app that’s working under third-party software.

Apple has been increasing its retail presence in China. Following COVID-19, the company has opened the second store in Shenzhen, China earlier in April. This effectively brings the number of Apple retail location across the country to over 50.

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