Although Mobike and ofo are known as two of the biggest Chinese bike-sharing platforms, they have actually adopted vastly different development paths. However, nobody call tell for sure which is better, at least until yesterday.
Recently, as ofo made great efforts in launching new shared bikes across China, an article saying that ofo ranks the first in terms of active users was widely circulated on the WeChat friends circle. Zhu Xiaohu, a partner at CSR Ventures, also shared the article on his friends circle.
According to iResearch’s report cited in the article, total usage time of ofo’s shared bikes reached over 130,000 in May and over 1.3 billion since its foundation. In comparison, Mobike’s total usage time has just reached 400 million. As to active users, ofo also ranked the first with 62.72 million, much higher than that of Mobike.
However, Pony Ma Huateng, founder and CEO of Tencent (known as the major investor of Mobike) didn’t agree so. Instead, he compared ofo’s shared bikes to “PHS” and “feature phones” and maintained that only Mobike’s shared bikes can be called “smart” bikes featuring two-way communication.
When Zhu responded that “solutions that offer the highest quality-price ratio are the best”, Ma refuted back, saying that “feature phones, no matter how high their quality-price ratio was, were untenable in the wave of smartphones”. Besides, he reminded Zhu that there was no need to bend the truth only because his venture firm invested in a company. According to him, if Tencent had invested in ofo, they would also advise ofo to adjust its development model.
While Zhu said “data means everything, we can just wait and see a year later” in response, Ma and an investment manager at Tencent both pointed out that there was no need to wait, since data already meant everything at present.
This debate over Mobike and ofo’s development path and potential took place right on Zhu’s friends circle under the above-mentioned article he reposted.
We did a quick interview among TMTPost editors and found most of them agreed with Ma’s judgment. However, it is worth mentioning that as the major investor of Mobike, Tencent led a couple Mobike’s financing rounds and has opened access its resources to Mobike, including WeChat Mini Program, WeChat Wallet, etc. In other words, Tencent has been closely cooperating with Mobike and help it win users via Tencent’s own platforms. This may also help explain why Zhu reiterated that it was not enough to only refer to WeChat’s data.
The following is the debate Pony Ma and Zhu Xiaohu had over the development path and potential of Mobike and ofo:
Pony Ma Huateng (hereafter referred to as “Ma”): Based on WeChat Pay’s data, Mobike’s transaction volume almost doubled that of ofo. After all, the value and potential of smartphones are strikingly different from those of feature phones.
Zhu Xiaohu (hereafter referred to as “Zhu”): Ofo has also started to use smart locks.
Ma: Token locks are far from being smart locks. Only locks that enable two-way communication can be called “smart locks”.
Zhu: It’s completely not necessary.
Ma: “PHS”-like shared bikes will, after all, be crashed out of the market.
Zhu: Well, I think solutions that offer the highest quality-price ratio are the best
Ma: Feature phones, no matter how high their quality-price ratio was, were untenable in the wave of smartphones. There’s no need to bend the truth only because your venture firm invested in a company. If we had invested in ofo, we would have advised it to adjust its development model.
Zhu: Data means everything. Let’s just wait and see a year later.
Jeffrey: We have enough data to prove my judgment. There’s no need to wait for three months or a year.
Ma: We can see live data every day on the back end.
Zhu: WeChat’s data is not enough to see the whole picture.
Ma: Who can’t launch piles of dumb terminals on the market. It’s just useless.
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @TMTPost-Chinese please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.