Having just launched this past August 20, the Bullet messenger app (Zidan Duanxin 子弹短信 by Smartisan) was quickly named the freebie that was downloaded the most in China’s Apple App Store. Since then, the downloads have fallen into multi-million numbers. Analysts attribute this rapid popularity to the fact that many users have been craving something a little different from the WeChat experience.
China Channel’s co-founder, Matthew Brennan says that since the internet space in China is becoming disrupted faster than ever now, that entrepreneurs stand to tap into a large business market for which the playbook is already an established feature. Analysts seem to agree on the fact that the new Bullet messenger app might be a big challenge when compared with WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings. It still falls behind WeChat by a great deal though, as WeChat has more than one billion users. Still, at its current download rate and popularity among the people, all that could change very quickly.
WeChat also offers a function with voice input, but it is nicely tucked away inside the interface and not often used. It also does not carry the ability to send a transcript along with the voice message in the way that the Bullet Messenger does. A key advantage of the Bullet Messenger, according to Citic Securities senior analyst Wang Guanran, is the fact that is considered lighter than the WeChat app. For instance, WeChat has functions that allow users to make payments and play games, but the Bullet Messenger app offers only messaging along with a news feed.
Additionally, anyone using the Bullet Messenger app will quickly find they can respond much quicker to messages, and with far fewer steps. Still, it is hard to build an app like this and hold on to the initial users who download it.