Coming from a Chinese background i often use the app, especially when in China and I know how it started and what it does, it’s not the same as SAFE, at all, so you can’t infer SAFE’s success based on Wechat’s success, SAFE may be successful, but it definitely is not related to Wechat.
When phone companies were charging for calls and texts, Wechat came out as an alternative, people quickly downloaded and used it so that they don’t have to pay. Privacy-wise, People in China could give less of a fuck if government ‘spied’ on their conversations, unless they’re anti-government, but honestly, growing up in China, i can definitely tell you the people there care a lot less about ‘privacy’ than the western world. As long as it does them no harm, they don’t care if government monitor everyone, they know the government is doing that to maintain control.
When the government blocked Facebook in China, the company quickly saw the demand for social media and lack of supply, and since so many people use Wechat, they then introduced ‘moments’ which is almost like Facebook and instagram combined. People can share status updates and other people can like and comment. So it grew more, but, when people shared those updates, it basically always linked to current http websites, it faired very well because it interfaced with the current world very well, it gave supply to the a sector in demand. Then it quickly spawned digital payments where you can scan a QR code and pay for things immediately, now, even 70 year old rural grandmas who sell their homegrown crops use it, but guess what though? It’s simply digitalising the Chinese Yuan and when you click withdraw, you get a bank transfer in less than 10 seconds to your bank account and it clears instantly, again, interfaced with existing currency system very well.
SAFE browser, if it does not support http links, will do NONE of that, it’s starting from complete scratch - First, all the websites have to be built by people and/or paid to be migrated by people to SAFE, otherwise there is simply no good websites in SAFE, hence browser is very limited to it’s usefulness to everyday people. Second, it’s native currency, even if you have it in a easy to use and easy to transact mobile app(which BTW is essential to it’s adoption), you have no fiat backing it, for all China is concerned, as long as the government there reigns, not many will get safecoin if you have no guaranteed, easy hassle free and instant conversions to Yuan at a rate that doesn’t fluctuation 20% every week, which, with safecoin or crypto, you can’t have that. It may just be like Bitcoin there currently more or less(although if it’s less fees and more transactional, MAYBE it’ll be used a little more than BTC)
So anyway, point I’m trying to make is, yes, Wechat is successful, but it’s based on completely different dynamics to what safe is doing. The second point i mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can’t do, as it’s a completely new currency system that’s not fiat, people just have to get used to it. But the first point, you can, restricting safe browsers to http will make the interface with the current world even harder and hence rate of adoption will definitely be slower. It is possible given enough time, though, but if you can fix the security issues, why not make do so so that the adoption will be faster rather than slower. And one more thing, if there could be an app created, that is a VPN service someone is hosting to access to clear net from the safebrowser, that’ll be also fine wouldn’t it?
(This is off topic but informative : Some people from the West think Safe is going to be big in China, sorry to break it but most likely, it won’t be. Just like Tor and VPN, most Chinese could give less of a fuck, although, it is important to those who do(which is maybe 0.01% or less of the population in China), and for tourists, but just not the majority of people, unfortunately.