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95% of China iPhone users would leave Apple if WeChat was banned

WeChat
WeChat (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A WeChat ban on iOS could be fatal to the iPhone in China.
  • A survey of iPhone users in the country shows 95% would leave the platform if it didn't have WeChat.
  • Over 1.2 million took part in the survey.

Following reports of a potential WeChat ban on Apple's App Store, 95% of iPhone users surveyed in China say they would move to a different device if WeChat was made unavailable.

As we reported last week, a WeChat ban could be fatal to the iPhone in China, from that report:

it's unclear how this could affect Apple's dealings in China, and whether the EO extends to dealings abroad or only on U.S. soil. This is extremely important because if Apple somehow wound up prohibited from letting WeChat on the App Store in China, the iPhone would be made effectively useless in the country. 99% of smartphones in China use WeChat, not only to communicate and interact through social media but to make payments, pay bills, purchase travel tickets, and more. As Dobie again notes, "A phone without WeChat in China is more useless than an Android device without GMS [Google Mobile Services] in the West."

The report included a link to a survey on Chinese social media. which at the time suggested around 678k users would leave iPhone if it didn't have WeChat:

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Likely referring to the same survey, Bloomberg now reports that more than 1.2 million people have responded, with 95% saying they would rather give up their devices than uninstalling WeChat. From the report:

A survey on the twitter-like Weibo service asking consumers to choose between WeChat and their iPhones has drawn more than 1.2 million responses so far, with roughly 95% of participants saying they would rather give up their devices. "The ban will force a lot of Chinese users to switch from Apple to other brands because WeChat is really important for us," said Sky Ding, who works in fintech in Hong Kong and originally hails from Xi'an. "My family in China are all used to WeChat and all our communication is on the platform."

The report notes that at an earnings call of parent company Tencent, executives stressed that the believe the WeChat ban will only apply to the app in the U.S., but that they were still seeking clarity given "the sweeping language" of President Trump's executive order.

Recently, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested a WeChat ban could dent iPhone shipments worldwide by as much as 30%.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

1 Comment
  • I keep wondering if people would leave an ecosystem if one app (here: WeChat) would become unavailable (here: banned). Yes, I can understand the frustration. Me, I have two great tablets severely crippled by some trade war that is foreign to me (in Europe). However, it doesn't make me abandon their ecosystem. I imported these tablets from China because they appeal to me, and because I have invested quite some money in Android apps, albeit neglectible compared to iOS apps. Would I be right in supposing that people who easily change ecosystems have invested very little in apps, and don't bother about their data (like photos, contacts, appointments) residing in a cloud that they would have trouble to access? Besides, I'd think that even four more years is a period that Chinese people can wait.