We Are The 1% – Alipay Cause Chinese Windows Phone Uprising


Below is a timeline of the recent war between Chinese WP users and AliPay, one of the most important mobile apps in the Chinese market. AliPay’s WP app has stayed largely dormant (with only 1 cosmetic update) over the past 3 years, and show no sign of improvement in the foreseeable future. This event described below has ignited an uprising by Windows Phone users in India.

AliPay is the most popular online payment service in China from Alibaba Group (now listed on NYSE), and considering the fact that credit cards is not a household item in that country, it’s probably the most popular non-cash payment method too. It’s safe to say that it’s the perfect equivalent of PayPal, only a million times more popular in China.

AliPay is accessible through its web interface, and also with mobile apps. It’s one of the most critical apps for an ecosystem to succeed in that market.

The app was first released for Windows Phone (hereafter “WP”) in 2013, with some of the most basic features and bad performance. Since then it’s never updated. By the middle of 2014, after rounds of pleading, negotiation and complaining, Alibaba finally updated the WP app in July, which includes a UI refreshment and almost no significant additional feature. WP users of the app are still confined to the bare basics of deposit and withdraw, completely cut off from more popular features of the service, such as payment through QR code, and peer-to-peer quick payment, which have long been made available to Android and iOS users. That update in July 2014 is the only one the WP app ever received.

Things have been mostly fine between AliPay and Chinese WP users, until on March 10, 2015, when Apple revealed the Apple Watch.

Merely hours after the revealing, AliPay made a post on Weibo (China’s equivalence of Twitter) that a full-featured AliPay app for Apple Watch is ready for launch. That post ignited all the hard feelings WP users accumulated over almost 3 years. The reason is simple: If we are treated with a crippled and dormant app for so long simply because of WP’s tiny market share in China, how come an hours-old product of an uncertain future gets such passionate and fast support from you? This is a clear case of negligence and discrimination.

Angry Chinese WP users then mobbed the Weibo post of AliPay’s, leaving waves of furious comments under it. The post can be found here.

A screenshot with comment count (160 thousand).

Alipay Comments 16000

By now (11:40pm, March 12, Eastern Time), the comment count for that post is 180,254. Most of these comments are about:

  1. Update the WP app NOW.
  2. AliPay’s discrimination over the minority is unacceptable.
  3. Simply curse.

Note that the Weibo administrator of AliPay has been constantly deleting comments and blocking users. The actual number of comments fired at it should be a lot more than 180K.

In the process, WP users coined a new word “iBitch”, which is not targeted at either Apple or Apple Watch, but means to say that “AliPay is Apple’s bitch”.

Soon Android Wear users joined the war against AliPay, because apparently their situation is even worse. There’s no functional AliPay app for Android Wear watches yet, while Apple Watch gets the super-first-class-citizen treatment.

On March 12, AliPay made sort of a response through its Weibo account, indirectly saying to Chinese WP users that “You are the 1%. Why you even choose to be the 1%?” The weibo post can be found here.


Alipay Comments 1000

By the time of the screenshot, this new Weibo update was showered by over 10,000 comments from even more insulted WP users. As of this moment, the total comment count of this update is 21,340. The primary target of this social war is the other post aforementioned.

As a response, various Chinese WP communities and users have started a grassroot movement of changing their Weibo display pictures, saying “I AM 1%” on various Microsoft-themed backgrounds (Windows logo, Live Tile interface, etc.)

I AM 1 Percent Windows Phone

By now even more Android users have joined the war, down-rating the AliPay app in various third-party Android app stores in the Chinese market. Some iOS users are show support too.

Currently the outcry of furious WP users is this:

  • Give the AliPay app on WP a proper update if AliPay still cares;
  • Get that dormant app out of the Windows Phone Store if AliPay officially refuses to serve the WP market;
  • WP communities demand recognition and acknowledgement, or the formal denial of such, instead of a solid app.

The movement is still brewing. AliPay has not given any clear response yet.

Thanks Siyang Gao for the post!