China has an amazing smartphone super-app. You may not want the West to replicate it.

China's WeChat could be the future of the mobile internet
(Image credit: The New York Times/YouTube)

Thanks to the Great Firewall of China, an intricate network of filters and website-blockers, China has had to develop its own ecosystem of smartphone apps. China's insistence on government access to and control of apps has largely kept Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google off Chinese smartphones, leading to an entire industry of copycat apps that really only work in China. But now, say Johan Kessel and Paul Mazur at The New York Times, China "has become a guide to the future."

"It's almost as if the Chinese internet is a lagoon as an aside to the greater ocean of the internet," Kessel and Mazur explain in the video below. "And in that lagoon there are these swamp-monster apps that bear some resemblance to the creatures in the ocean, but are mutated in some ways because they evolved in a different kind of environment." For a long time, nobody outside China cared about these swamp monsters, but now, "some of the features they have developed are so amazing that Western apps are trying to copy them," they report.

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