School of Digit - China

It all started during lunch one day. I was happily eating my homemade food while David, a good friend and colleague of mine, was staring at it and paused for a long time. Finally, it started, “Jing, is it true that in China…?”

Hahahahaha! No, we don’t dress like ancient people anymore and we do have cell phones and the internet!! David’s question got me thinking and made me realise how many questions my colleagues must have about this mysterious, unknown Far East land!

I decided to go ahead and tell them more about my country. China is place populated with 1.3 billion people with a high ratio of ‘netizens’, a fast growing economy and some ‘bizarre’ digital trends and behaviour.

It’s hard to understand somewhere’s digital market and trends without acknowledging the local culture and mentality. I guess you can’t talk about China without mentioning our passion for food and self-portrait pictures, our obsession of technology and smartphone products, our busy lifestyle and high pressure living. All these social and cultural factors have a huge impact on our e-commerce, social media and digital behaviour. The popular photo-sharing social media channels, the thriving mobile apps and e-commerce platforms, speed dating and group buy deals are all the ‘products’ born in the big Chinese digital climate.

Starting 14 years ago from icq & oicq age to today’s Facebook, Twitter, and Sina Weibo age. The new era has begun with Sina Weibo integrated into the iOS & Instagram systems , and China recently shared its first ‘home developed’ Wechat app with the rest of the world.

Wechat remains my personal favourite. This app was developed in 2011, managing to double its users from 100 million to 200 million between March and November 2012! This app combines functions of WhatsApp, Skype, iMessage, Instagram and Google Hangouts. Features such as texting, ‘hold to talk’, auto-synch of friends from different social platforms, video calls, group chats, , and you can even use it as a ‘speed-dating’ geo-locator to find people around you! I guess what I love the most about the app is how easy it makes for people to connect and how it manages to provide an ‘all-in-one’ service!

How many of you share the same pain and feel that you have too many apps on your phone? Especially when every single one of them offers a different function but with similar purpose. Good apps and services gain popularity because they stick to the fundamental human truth - make your life easy and simple!

So, do I see China taking over the world? To be honest, I don’t believe in this East/West competition theory. We live in the same world, and we are merging into one. China is catching up on technology and innovation. Instead of being the copycat, they are starting to adapt to and take inspiration from the West. The world is changing, but in a friendly collaborative way. We are becoming more equal and respectful of each other’s culture and knowledge. The digital platforms are emerging but so are our culture differences and technology gaps. The world is spinning like a blender, and our little salad bowl is turning into a lovely yummy melting pot!


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