China, the next Tech Ecosystem

January 4, 2017
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China, as the world´s second-largest economy, is playing a more and more important role in the digital industry. With tech giants like Tecent and Alibaba domaining in mobile development technology and e-commerce, it is where to look at for the next global tech ecosystem.

On one hand, China has a unique ecosystem for the mobile industry as the country holds one of the highest mobile penetration in the world: according to Statista, the rate has reached 77.3% in 2016. As a consequence of the restrictions of foreign medias, Chinese social media platforms are now playing a vital row in users´ experience in domestic market. According to Verto Analytics, Chinese consumers are nowadays mobile centric as mobile is driving Chinese Internet usage. People in China spend more time on smartphones each month than their U.S. counterparts on reading news, watching videos and purchasing goods online.

It is notorious that many mobile related technologies have first popularized in China, for example people have been using QR code, a bar code-like symbol, to realize purchase or online transference for a long time; online streaming videos recently launched by Facebook got popular among young people years ago on social media platforms such as Meipai and Yingke. Apps like Wechat (owned by tech giant Tencent) with 846 million users has gone beyond than just a chat app. Instead, it integrates chat, mobile payment system, game downloading, and other functions, which is to say with only one app, Tencent is able to have a large number of users fully engaged.

wechat2On the other hand, China is making a heavy investment in AI research as the country rivals the US, Japan and the European Union in the industry. Tech companies such as search engine giant Baidu have been pouring money into innovation and development. With a lab set up in Silicon Valley, Baidus´s Institute of Deep Learning is aiming to compete with Google and Facebook for highly qualified talents, thus becoming the leader in this sector at an international level.

Efforts have been made for the application of the technology to people´s daily life as well. At the beginning of 2016, for example, Microsoft´s deep learning AI was used for the first time as a weather reporter in a local news channel.

One advantage of the Chinese tech industry is the volume of data generated by its enormous population of internet users, allowing tech companies to optimize their operations using advanced data processing tools. Driven by big data, as defined by the company´s CTO Zhang Jianfeng, the e-commerce giant Alibaba has managed to build world´s largest retail platform which, in this year´s Double 11 Festival, achieved a gross merchandise volume of $17.8 billion.

However, Chinese internet companies haven’t limited their ambition in the domestic market as many of the big companies have already made acquisitions overseas to gain more weight on the global stage. In July, China´s Midea Group Co., a home appliance maker, pulled off the plan to become the largest shareholder of Kuka AG, one of Germany´s most advanced robot manufactures, with 86 percent stake secured. Likewise, Alibaba, the e-commerce giant with outposts already established in New York City and Silicon Valley, is now expanding rapidly in Southeast Asia in e-commerce and mobile payment.

With rising enthusiasm for digital technologies and steadily growing investment, there is no doubt that in the near future, China can become the world´s largest tech ecosystem. Therefore students of Master Programs from Barcelona Technology School now have the chance to visit Shanghai, one of the destinations of BTS Global Chapters, to discover China’s unique digital environment. The experience will allow students to visit large digital corporations, meet industry leaders and build networking, exposing them to how business is done in China in order to create a long lasting relationship between students, companies and Chinese business leaders.

Are you ready for this exciting adventure?

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