Reflections on digital China

wearesocial put together some of the best slideware together in terms of macro-dgital numbers country-by-country.

Slides and numbers only tell some of the story, so I wanted to reflect on some of the data points in the slides.

  • China boasts a mobile penetration of 91%, however many people have two or more phones which means that mobile phones aren’t quite as ubiquitous as the number appears
  • Desktop internet usage still occurs in internet cafes, often inside a factory complex like Foxconn’s facility in Shenzhen or off the high street of major cities where gaming is a popular pastime, this puts a slightly different complexion on the European-looking numbers for Shanghai and Beijing
  • One thing that is noticeable about Chinese broadband internet connections is that whilst they have bandwidth (which averages just over 3.45MB/s according to the slides), it also has a lot of latency – due to the systems put in for local legal and regulatory compliance. Latency is important because even a small amount (just 0.025s) can adversely affect the call quality on a voice over IP call
  • Mobile internet is very popular, partly because it is the only internet access that a lot of people have. The popularity has come at a price for mobile operators including infrastructure costs (so they have banded together to build a joint network of base stations) and reduced SMS traffic (WeChat’s rise has reduced SMS to just 2% of its former value)
  • QQ has 808,000,000 accounts, at least some of these are actually business accounts. A Chinese business operating on e-commerce will have a QQ IM account for synchronous communications and file transfers, alongside an email address (which will get checked less frequently) and a phone number
  • The search market statistics quoted show user promiscuity in their search habits, partly due to the fact Baidu had taken a more measured approach to mobile search
  • The e-commerce numbers fail to show the market dominance of Alibaba with its TaoBao and TMall retail platforms. TaoBao alone has half a billion registered users, the vast majority of which would be in China
  • WeChat has some 600M domestic registered users. Again some of these accounts will be corporate accounts, there are many inactive accounts if these numbers are to be believed. Each account will be attached to a mobile phone number