Tencent Holdings’ messaging services were by far the most popular Chinese mobile apps in 2016, leading steady growth in the world’s largest Internet and smartphone market, the government’s online industry overseers said on Sunday.
WeChat remained the most heavily used app in the country in 2016, with almost 80% of the online population employing the social media service frequently, the China Internet Network Information Centre, or CNNIC, said in its annual report.
Tencent’s QQ took second place, while Alibaba Group’s online bazaar Taobao came in third.
South Africa’s Naspers holds a roughly one-third stake in Tencent.
Baidu’s mobile app and Alipay, the payments service run by Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial, rounded out the top five.
The rankings underscore how China’s “BAT” Internet triumvirate — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — dominate the country’s Internet industry, which is walled off from the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook. Internet users there climbed roughly 6% to 731m — about twice the population of the US.
The number of people who accessed the Internet through a mobile device surged more than 12% to 695m.
China has become a major source of revenue for smartphone industry players from Qualcomm to Apple, which now counts the greater China region as its biggest international market. But the domestic scene is again lorded over by a clutch of local players, including Oppo, Vivo and Huawei.
One of the fastest-growing areas in 2016 was ride-hailing, according to the CNNIC. That segment is dominated by Didi Chuxing, which drove Uber Technologies out of the market last year when it bought the San Francisco start-up’s local operation.
Users of ride-hailing services such as Didi’s leapt 38% to 168m in the second half of 2016, from the first half. There were also 225m people who used an app to call taxis only. — (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP