Thursday, November 23, 2017

On the Other Side of The Great Firewall

This week sees the publication of the 7th in a series of 7 reports I penned on international media markets, and this one focuses on China. With its population of 1.4 billion China is, in many ways, a market unto itself. Yet what happens in China is increasingly affecting the rest of the world, despite the country’s protected media and tech markets. 

What do those markets look like?

While much of the world doesn’t go a day without using Facebook, Google, or Amazon, in China the ‘Big 3’ are Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. They operate on the other side of what is called The Great Firewall, the country’s censorship system that controls the inflows and outflows of information and services online.

China’s Big 3 tech companies serve close to a billion users with messaging apps, social networks, information and entertainment content, and eCommerce services.

                                                 

When we think about anything to do with China it’s also important to also think about scale. 1.4 billion is really a lot of people. Consequently, most of the numbers we’re accustomed to conceiving of pale in comparison to those that come out of China. For example, China’s version of Black Friday, called Singles Day, makes the US’s look like a flea market. This year revenues from Singles Day were $25 billion in online sales for Alibaba, an increase of 40% from last year. Compare this figure with the juggernaut that is Amazon. There’s no question that Amazon is eCommerce royalty, but their annual sales in 2016 were $136 billion. Alibaba’s were $485 billion.

The country also now has as many mobile phone users as it has people, with Chinese manufacturers such as ZTE, Huawei, and Xiaomi able to mass produce smartphones using low cost local labour.

                                               

This revolution in low end, low cost smartphones is now being brought to the world of high tech hardware, with 200+ companies in China producing sophisticated handsets, headsets, and terminals for VR and AR, for use everywhere from medical facilities to museums, schools, and retail environments.

The full report on the media, tech, and entertainment industries in China can be found herewith sections also devoted to gaming, television, and documentary, one of the fastest growing industries in China's media sector.