LANI LUO WRITES – With China’s booming economy and increasing standard of living, cell phone use has grown exponentially.
Folks across the country are using stylish smart phones and all their fantastic features. One of which is the WeChat application offered by Tencent, a social media outfit that until now has let users with WiFi text for free. But this no-cost service is about to change. Tencent officials hope that charging a small fee to millions of users will add up to big revenue for them.
Not surprisingly, China’s government wants in on the act.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says it will be an exclusive partner with Tencent in the fee-for-text scheme. Its reasoning: WeChat’s free service lets users text internationally, threatening telephone companies’ traditional text messaging services. Plus all those messages use up bandwidth on government-run networks.
Whether to charge its customers to use WeChat or not is up to Tencent. But before it makes its decision, Tencent should realize that once WeChat becomes a paid service, it no longer differs from any other traditional telecom texting services and thus will have to succeed in the same competitive market. Instead of attempting to charge for this service, Tencent should consider expanding WeChat’s data bandwidth and finding novel and creative ways to build revenue. After all, technology is only a tool for development. It would be unfortunate to hinder this development for the sake of money.