Where China Truly Innovates

The old truism of Chinese copycatting no longer applies in the online world.

May 15, 2014

Credit: Aquir - Shutterstock.com

1. Translated into the U.S. social media world, Tencent is like Facebook — WeChat is the WhatsApp of China.

2. However, WeChat has a broader service spectrum because it adds gaming and cloud storage as well as adding Facebook’s newsfeed to its messaging app.

3. WeChat already has more than 355 million active users — about 27% of Facebook’s 1.31 billion active users

4. WeChat has helped popularize QR codes — square barcode tags that are only marginally used in the United States.

5. WeChat also lets users use voice-chat, which turns an SMS into a walkie-talkie.

6. Many of the Internet companies in China can no longer be considered clones of leading U.S.-based companies (such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon).

7. The reason why they are actually innovating beyond what has Silicon Valley is a hyper-competitive local environment.

8. A lot of features and innovations are at the present time unique to the Chinese Internet.

9. The online space is where an immense burst of entrepreneurial activity unfolds in China, perhaps because it is one of the few spaces where creativity is not as stifled as in the “real” world.

10. A few years from now, it would not be surprising to see the new Facebook WhatsApp looking ever more like WeChat today.

Analysis by The Globalist Research Center
Data from: Alibaba’s Big Rivals May Have a Mobile Edge by David Talbot (MIT Technology Review)

The founder of Meijicard Aaron Du remarks,

“Because of the hyper-competitive local environment, they are actually innovating beyond what has proven successful in [Silicon] Valley. There are a lot of feature innovations that are fundamentally unique to the Chinese Internet, and we will likely see more of that over the next decade. A few years from now, it would not be surprising to see the new Facebook Whatsapp looking a lot like Wechat today.”

 

 

Takeaways

A few years from now, it would not be surprising to see Facebook's WhatsApp looking ever more like WeChat today.

Many of the Internet companies in China can no longer be considered clones of leading U.S.-based companies

The old truism of Chinese copycatting no longer applies in the online world.