My preceding posts on this site are already leading to such a massive conclusion. Read:
The latest information collected to support my headline here is providing further evidence:
- The new frontier: application service (e.g. WeChat) global expansion with lead market advantage and tremendous growth opportunity lying ahead
- Online shopping growing very fast
- Applications, applications to be added to the search
- Xiaomi to take Apple place
- Strong central government support
- Country-wide 4G roll-out by year end 2013 after extensive trials
- From operator branded to white-box superphones supporting all that
Lead #1: Choosing Sides: Who’s Partnered with Who in China’s Internet War? [Tech In Asia, Aug 5, 2013]
The battle between China’s internet giants is only becoming more contentious, and the nation’s major companies seem to be making acquisitions and partnerships at a breakneck pace this year (not to mention rolling out products designed to invade rivals’ markets).
In the interest of clarity, I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of who’s on whose team so far, based on China’s three most internet profitable companies. Obviously none of this is cast in stone, but it’s still quite an interesting way to understand the internet sector. (Note: these lists only include acquisitions and partnerships from 2013).
- Sina Weibo – a huge new partnership that’s likely to yield more social products from Alibaba.
- Qihoo 360 – Arguably an independent player, but Qihoo has worked with Alibaba on a product search engine. Qihoo is itself rumored to be buying Sogou.
- Autonavi – Alibaba invested a boatload in the online mapping company, though it’s not yet clear what role this will play in Alibaba’s long-term strategy.
- Xiami (acquisition) – Another likely part of Alibaba’s social plan.
Shots fired: Alibaba has been especially harsh to Tencent this year, banning third-party communication tools (mostly WeChat and QQ) in its offices andshutting down the Taobao-WeChat interface. But it has also taken a swipe at Baidu via the launch of its own search engine.
- Xiaomi – A very new partnership, but one that could see Tencent strengthen its strangehold in mobile.
- China Unicom – WeChat’s popularity has got all of China’s telecoms trying to cozy up to Tencent to get in on the money train.
Shots fired: New security features in WeChat 5 will challenge Qihoo, and Tencent is also rumored to be interested in buying Sogou which would put it at odds with Baidu. Additionally, Tencent dealt old rivals Qihoo a loss in the courts this year.
- 91 Wireless (acquisition) – A huge buy that shows Baidu is serious about mobile.
- PPS (acquisition) – Another major buy that turned Baidu into one of the major players in internet video.
- Qunar – Baidu has invested big in the online travel company.
- Kingsoft – Baidu has also invested in Qihoo rival Kingsoft.
Shots fired: Baidu really hates Qihoo, and has launched an antivirus suite and Baidu Guard, both of which are designed to break into Qihoo’s PC security market. Entering Alibaba’s domain, it has also released a product search engine. Plus, just like Tencent, Baidu has spanked Qihoo in court this year.
First watch this video about Baidu [firecracker888 YouTube channel, Dec 4, 2012]
as well as about Baidu’s recent expansion by acquiring 91 Wireless, the biggest 3d party appstore in China: Baidu Gains Mobile Share in $1.9B 91 Wireless Deal [BloombergMarket YouTube channel, July 16, 2013], note Baidu’s earlier platform attempts—Baidu Site App Platform [Sept 3, 2012] and Baidu Yi [Sept 2, 2011]—now joined by 91 open mobile platform [Oct 11, 2012] as well.
Jin Yoon, Nomura Live at Beyond Pix Studios in San Francisco, CA. July 16, 2013. http://www.beyondpix.com
Then go deeper first with:
Alibaba is one of China’s largest–and most successful–online retailers, and its IPO could command upwards of $70 billion dollars. With a offering coming as early as September, Alibaba appears to be taking steps to limit the counterfeit merchandise on its platform. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Unlike Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Alibaba doesn’t sell products itself but operates websites that help sellers find buyers. While Alibaba doesn’t have much control over who sells what on Taobao–a mammoth site with more than 800 million product listings—it has been continuously upgrading the system to delete listings for counterfeit goods. In Alibaba’s efforts to maintain credibility, Tmall, another shopping site that became independent from Taobao in 2011, plays a key role. While anyone with a national identification document can become a seller on Taobao, Alibaba’s criteria for Tmall, which hosts storefronts for major brands such as Nike Inc. (NKE) and Gap Inc. (GPS), are more stringent as it tries to make the site a piracy-free zone…
…Alibaba said it blocks some items from being posted on Taobao using filtering mechanisms based on certain keywords used by sellers to describe counterfeit goods. Brands like[guitar-string manufacturer] D’Addarioconstantly monitor Taobao and report any counterfeit items to Alibaba.
which provides a good introduction to Jack Ma: E-commerce in China and Around the World [Credit Suisse YouTube channel, March 20, 2013]
With 242 million people in China expected to shop online in 2013, spending an estimated US$265 billion, China’s e-commerce industry is a force no-one can afford to ignore. Jack Ma, the head of Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company, discusses how the sector has been generating grassroots economic opportunities and changing lives in China and beyond, and what the future of e-commerce will be like.
And now it’s time to learn via an authentic video of how that business started in 1999 (with the experience of the first Internet company “China Pages” started in 1995 and then 14 months of work for the goverment behind) Jack Ma Speech From “Crocodile In The Yangtze” [PandoDaily YouTube channel, Jan 16, 2013]
Alibaba founder Jack Ma gives an inspirational speech to his recruits in the company’s first office: his apartment. This clip is from Porter Erisman’s documentary film about Alibaba: “Crocodile In The Yangtze.” See http://www.crocodileintheyangtze.com/
Then continue with Alibaba Founder Jack Ma: Ideas & Technology Can Change the World [stanfordbusiness YouTube channel, June 19, 2013] the same appeared as Jack Ma: E-Commerce and the China Opportunity [TeamAlibaba YouTube channel, May 9, 2013] with “… talks about his unusual entrepreneurial beginnings at …. See what else he has to say about e-commerce and the China opportunity.”
Jack Ma reflects at Stanford during final days as CEO; says ‘people bet I’d be a loser’ [By Daniel Limón on SPRIE, May 14, 2013], see also the full transcript in English (PDF)
Speaking without notes or visual aids on May 4th at Stanford University’s NVIDIA Auditorium, founder and former CEO of Alibaba Group Jack Ma unspooled a farewell talk that at moments turned highly personal and deeply reflective: Ma spoke openly about his persistent failures in school, including spending seven years in elementary school and being rejected by Harvard ten times, and about his struggles to jumpstart Alibaba with only 50,000 RMB.
Less than two minutes into his talk at the event co-hosted by Alibaba Group and the Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE) of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Ma touched on the trials and travails he had faced early on as an internet and e-commerce pioneer in China. “Back in 1995,” revealed Ma, “I felt I was a loner and people thought I was a cheater. They said I was trying to make something out of nothing.” In fact, added Ma, his first interview with CCTV was censored at the behest of the producer, who feared Ma’s talk about giving the Chinese government internet access was “not a positive influence” and made Ma “look like a bad guy.”
Ma’s personal struggles, however, began well before he knew anything about e-commerce—in elementary school—where Ma confessed to being such a bad pupil that no school in his hometown of Hangzhou wanted him. In high school, he spent three years taking the college entrance exam before scoring high enough to enroll in a local teachers college. Harvard rejected him ten times. “Nobody said that I would be a very capable person that would do something significant or meaningful in the future,” Ma admitted to a silent and still audience of about 100 people. Ma also recalled his father asking him to focus and do calligraphy. “I couldn’t really do it—I didn’t have good penmanship,” he said.
It’s clear the former English teacher turned internet billionaire never let the doubts of his detractors or the rejections from Harvard spoil his high aspirations—in fact, Ma credited the Silicon Valley for inspiring him to bring internet innovation to China amid the setbacks: “I knew nothing about technology, but every time I came to Silicon Valley, on the weekends I would see cars fill each and every parking lot… I saw the lights were on at each and every office building. When everyone spoke, their eyes were filled with sparkles. They were really hopeful about the future. So I was really inspired when I went back to China—I thought that I should do an internet business.”
So Ma did, founding Alibaba Group in 1999 with 17 other co-founders. Today, Alibaba is China’s largest e-commerce firm, something Ma readily admitted exceeded his wildest dreams: “I never thought that Jack Ma would have, in the future, a day like today. I never thought that Alibaba or Taobao or any type of transaction developed by Taobao would have a day like today. I never thought the internet would have a day like today.”
Midway through the speech, the 49-year-old seasoned entrepreneur also struck a philosophical and political chord, making tacit references to god, social conflict, war, and generational change. He encouraged the audience to be grateful for living in an era of great opportunity, adding “the worst thing is that mankind experiences war… if we can actually solve problems through economic development, we will not need wars and we can actually use economic development to influence many people.” He warned, nonetheless, that in the next 30 years the world would face a host of unknown vicissitudes, including “lots of social conflicts,” which Ma described as opportunities for young people. “If everything stays stable, we are not going to have any opportunities.”
Ma also gave the audience his views on the state of China’s present social milieu: “This is the best of times, this is the worst of times,” remarked Ma. “Nobody is happy in China… there’s a lack of trust and nobody is happy. The poor people are unhappy; the rich people are unhappy. The government doesn’t trust media; the media doesn’t trust government. We are in an era of constant change.”
At least twice during his speech, the founder of China’s most profitable e-commerce company also took spirited swipes at some of his personal critics. “You know, we are experiencing economic and political restructuring and they want me to commit suicide. Lots of people are asking, ‘why are you not advocating for political restructuring?’ I don’t feel that’s actually something that can be done. I feel that lots of people encouraging me to do that have foreign passports. And they aren’t going to stay in China as long as they see the situation changing. They’re going to flee the country.” Ma also took to task those that ask why he runs a technology company if he knows so little about technology. He said it’s like asking a real estate developer “you know nothing about constructing a house—how can you be a real estate developer?”
Fourteen years removed from when he founded Alibaba, Ma’s personal belief is that one shows respect and admiration for technology and the people that develop it. “That you don’t know about technology,” said Ma, “doesn’t mean you don’t respect technology.”
You can understand the role of Alibaba in global e-commerce (already) via Small Business Success: DS Global Corporation (DS글로벌) [TeamAlibaba YouTube channel, July 17, 2013]
and for making simple the task of global sourcing for potential customers there is an all-encompassing service on Alibaba.com, the AliSourcePro [TeamAlibaba YouTube channel, July 3, 2013]
– Why Alibaba’s Future Looks Bright [Tech In Asia, May 21, 2013]
– Why Alibaba could be China’s next $100bln IPO [Reuters’ Analysis & Opinion blog, April 25, 2013]
– Interview with Alibaba.com’s Chairman, Jack Ma [a bmpcroxon article now available only via Alibaba Trade Forums, Oct 23, 2006]
– Jack Ma, In the Chinese Cave of Alibaba – La Tribune, Business section [Alibaba Trade Forums, Aug 13, 2007]
Lead #2: Here’s why a war has started between Chinese Internet giants Tencent and Alibaba [The Next Web, Aug 5, 2013]
Chinese Internet giant Tencent has been on a roll recently — for a while last week, it seemed that plenty of other Chinese tech companies wanted to be friends with the firm behind WeChat, a wildly popular messaging service in the country.
However, a huge crack appeared in its veneer of popularity toward the end of the week when Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba suddenly suspended its working relationship with WeChat, marking the start of war.
A series of collaborations and one break-off
Last week, Chinese telecom operators did a surprise turn-around after previously getting upset that WeChat was allegedly stealing users away from traditional SMS.
China Unicom officially announced the introduction of a new SIM card that includes an independent data package for WeChat. Subsequently, it was reported that China Telecom would launch a plan that includes 2GB worth of data specifically for WeChat as well as Sina Weibo — though WeChat was obviously the focus of this package.
Following that, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi launched its latest Hongmi phone — at $130, it is the lowest-priced in Xiaomi’s range — in collaboration with Qzone, a social networking website owned by Tencent.
Tencent seemed to be riding the wave of popularity throughout last week — until all of a sudden, Alibaba announced that it was suspending all WeChat-related marketing applications from its e-commerce sites.
Alibaba cited misuse by sellers as the reason for doing so, but in the next moment, the company announced that it was launching a “Weibo-Taobao” platform to make it easier for customers on the Twitter-like microblogging platform to shop on e-commerce site Taobao. Interestingly enough, it was also revealed that Sina Weibo will provide Taobao sellers with marketing services.
This suspension of any existing working relationship is a clear indication that war has started between the two Chinese Internet giants — Tencent and Alibaba.
Unlikely rivals cross paths
It would seem that the two make unlikely rivals. The former focuses on providing service portals, while the other mainly dabbles in e-commerce.
However, Alibaba — which makes more money than eBay and Amazon combined — has been showing interest in tapping into the social market. It took an 18 percent stake in Sina’s Weibo in a bid to slow down Tencent’s WeChat success and also bought 28 percent of AutoNavi, China’s top mapping system, suggesting that it is focusing on maps as another prong of its social strategy.
This comes as Tencent revealed last year that it was looking to expand its business into a number of new areas as it sought to increase its already sizable online presence and appeal to advertisers — one of which was e-commerce, which would infringe on Alibaba’s presence. Subsequently, it created an e-commerce subsidiary called Tencent E-Commerce Holding Company.
Just recently, Tencent also led a $150 million investment in design-focused e-commerce service Fab.com, aimed at helping the firm learn more about global e-commerce models.
Alibaba’s fear of Tencent’s social power
Why would Alibaba be so afraid of Tencent though, given that Tencent has not yet made its big jump into e-commerce? The reason is simple:
Tencent’s dominance in the social market.
The power of social is something that every company aspires to have. Communities form opinions and can ultimately define future products and services, according to Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst and partner at Altimeter Group.
Right now, it is clear that even if communities haven’t entirely started defining products and services yet, they can decide which ones should get the love. This means that if you have the community on your side, you have a significant advantage.
And Tencent has the power of communities on its side, which could easily become a force to be reckoned with. QQ had close to 800 million active accounts at the end of 2012, while WeChat has nearly 400 million users in all, out of which there are 195 million monthly active users.
This means that any new initiative rolled out by Tencent, such as e-commerce, could very possibly tip the scale to its favor.
Even though Tencent has not started mapping a clear route to develop e-commerce, its dabbling into selling peripherals such as stickers and games could see it inch slowly toward rolling out more products.
Furthermore, Tencent has the payments solution in place to enable possible e-commerce. The company owns Tenpay, a PayPal-like online payments solution. Its QQ platform also has a virtual currency already, while the latest update to Weixin (what WeChat is known as in China) saw it introduce mobile in-app payments linked to a banking account which is in turn supported by TenPay.
A Sina Tech report noted that by introducing payments onto WeChat, Tencent is literally declaring war on Alipay, the mobile payments company spun off by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The report cites a source close to Alipay as saying that the company had already sensed the impending threat of TenPay being integrated into WeChat, and has been developing new techniques to head off the challenge – for example, it recently announced a major update of its mobile app, Alipay Wallet.
Who will win the war?
Alibaba has shown all intentions of fighting this war to victory. Newly-installed Chief Executive Jonathan Lu has pledged to continue the e-commerce giant’s recent string of big investments as it continues focusing on improving its services for mobile. Lu wants Alibaba’s service – and in particular its two biggest e-commerce businesses: virtual ‘mall’ for brands Tmall and eBay-likeTaobao marketplace – to make better use of customer data to provide a more tailored user experience.
However, even Tencent’s rival — and Alibaba’s ally – Sina has publicly admitted that WeChat is causing its users to spend less time on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo service.
In other words, Tencent isn’t China’s biggest Internet company without a reason. By harnessing the power of social, Tencent has laid its foundation well and could easily spread its influence into a wider variety of businesses.
John Hancock once said: The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.
The community that Tencent has painstakingly built up over the years will lead to much easier influence in the future, which bodes well for its business. On the other hand, Alibaba needs to brush up on its social influence in China. It is doing swimmingly well in its main businesses — which include e-commerce, financial solutions and big data — and has been tipped for a multi-billion-dollar initial public offering (between $60 billion-$70 billion), but its lack of a persuasive social strategy still sticks out like a sore thumb.
Could the tables turn though? Definitely, considering that Alibaba has already recognized this and is taking steps to beef up its social strategy. In war, victory is always possible as long as you keep fighting. Who knows, Alibaba could one day just as easily roll out a phenomenal success like WeChat.
Then I recommend to watch Tencent [firecracker888 YouTube channel, Dec 4, 2012], note that the “weixin” service (mentioned in the video by Chinese) is WeChat mentioned above
To close this lead section is best with these 13 months old Tencent CEO interview which speaks for the whole Internet industry in China, also by clearly expressing its global expansion potential: Tencent’s Pony Ma (马化腾) on China’s internet economy [NUS Business School YouTube channel, July 1, 2012]
End of the Lead Contents
My preliminary investigation was concluded in an ‘April 13, 2013 Report’, which is following after the above sections, and organized around the following findings:
– Digitimes Research: Smartphone sales to reach 329 million in China in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, March 18, 2013]
– China Mobile aims to sell 100-120 million TD-SCDMA handsets in 2013 [DIGITIMES, March 15, 2013]
– China Mobile 2013 capex increases 49% on year [DIGITIMES, March 14, 2013]
– China Mobile to build world’s largest 4G network [CCTV News via GoUTube123 YouTube channel, Feb 27, 2013]
– China Mobile launched 100 cities 1 million terminals-covered 4G plan to create world’s largest 4G network [GTI News, March 8, 2013]
– China Mobile to procure TD-LTE devices from Huawei, ZTE, Samsung [DIGITIMES, March 19, 2013]
– China Mobile: 4G licensing expected by year-end [China Daily, March 13, 2013]
– China to lead mobil payment technology [CCTV News via GoUTube123 YouTube channel, Feb 27, 2013]
– Commercializing 4G in China needs 1 yr: minister [China Daily, March 15, 2013]
– FRANCE 24 Report : Chinese smartphone brands take bite out of APPLE [france24englishYouTube channel, Feb 18, 2013]
– Rise of Chinese smartphones [CNNInternational YouTube channel, Feb 26, 2013]
– Mike Walsh on Global Innovation [cmispeakers YouTube channel, Feb 5, 2013]
– China Smartphone Sector [Asia Pacific/China Equity Research, Credit Suisse, Jan 7, 2013]
– Chinese Smartphones [FinancialTimesVideos YouTube channel, April 5, 2012]
– Chinese smartphones going big [CCTV News via the GoUTube123 YouTube channel, July 11, 2012]
– Handset Industry 2013 Outlook [Asia Pacific/China Equity Research, Credit Suisse, Jan 7, 2013]
– SED Electronics Market (Tablets Market) in Shenzhen walk-through [Charbax YouTube channel, March 17, 2013]
– Allwinner A31 9.7″ Retina factory tour at Celeb Tech [Charbax YouTube channel, March 17, 2013]
Then followed by More information
This getting even more interesting as the quite dramatic by itself introductory information is only one of the reasons (more will follow below) why we can say that China is the epicenter of the mobile Internet world, so of the next-gen HTML5 web … even if such a power of influence is too new for the country to be able to exercise that to a greater degree (yet): China Knocks Off U.S. to Become World’s Top Smart Device Market [Peter Farago on the Flurry blog, Feb 18, 2013]
Nevertheless the collection given below in the ‘Background’ section is showing that potential. Just look at the major headlines in that section:
China becomes world’s top smartphone producer
China’s e-commerce revenue hits over 1 trillion yuan in 2012: minister
China’s top microblog site boasts 500 mln users
China expected to issue 4G licenses this year: minister
Preparing for a 4G network across China
ZTE leads in 4G wireless networks
EU telecom demands raise tensions with China
China has till June for solar, telecoms trade deal: EU
China’s mobile phone users reach 1.11 bln
China market: Samsung takes up 22.5% of 2012 smartphone sales, says iiMedia Research
Smart phones cover 70 pct of mobile market: report
Android powers a third of all mobile phones shipped in 4Q12, says Canalys
Google controls too much of China’s smartphone sector: ministry
Too late for China to develop own mobile operating systems, say Taiwan makers
China handset makers hope to reduce reliance on Android
China to modify plan to open up mobile telecom sector
4M[bps] broadband to cover 70 percent of Chinese users in 2013
Broadband network expansion in the pipeline
1. The new frontier: application service (e.g. WeChat) global expansion with lead market advantage and tremendous growth opportunity lying ahead
The new frontier: WeChat striving for global expansion [ChinaDaily, Aug 5, 2013]
Lisa Tseretzoulias, a 51-year-old office administrator living in Montreal, Canada, came across WeChat a year ago and instantly fell in love. “I like it a lot and have recommended it to family and friends.”
WeChat, known as weixin in Chinese, is the country’s most popular messaging and social media app developed by Tencent, China’s biggest Internet firm. WeChat is often likened toWhatsApp, developed by a US firm, and Japan’s Line.
But WeChat is more than a messenger app and packs a host of other features, including a hold-to-talk function that allows users to send audio messages to other WeChat users, much like a walky-talky. It’s also a social media platform to post photos and make comments, much like Facebook. Companies and celebrities can open a special account to interact with fans and build a following. NBA basketball player LeBron James has an account.
Founded in 1998 in the southern city of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, Tencent has over the past decade proven itself to be China’s undisputed king of messaging, with its banner instant messaging service called QQ, China’s largest instant messaging service with over 800 million users. With a shift in Internet usage from personal computers to smartphones and tablets, Tencent launched WeChat in 2011.
By the end of the first half of 2013, the number of WeChat users in China had exceeded 400 million, driving revenue growth from mobile traffic up by 56.8 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Just like the impact Skype has had on landlines, the heavy use of WeChat in China now poses a challenge for telecom operators, whose revenues for text messaging—its most profitable business—fell markedly, leading to a debate overwhether or not to charge a user fee for the application. The attempt by telecom operators to pressure WeChat to charge for the service was roundly condemned by Chinese netizens and others who called on the phone companies to leave WeChat alone and develop their own products to compete. So far, Tencent has no plans to charge users for the popular app but says it will cooperate with China’s big telecom players in other ways.
WeChat is already a huge domestic success and is used by everyone from teenagers to their parents to their grandparents. But Tencent is not satisfied with success in the home market and is branching out globally tooth-and-nail. Roadblocks, however, remain.
With an eye on the international market, WeChat is now available in 18 languages, including English, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese and Russian. The app can be used on almost all mainstream mobile phone systems thanks to a first-class research and development team at Tencent. WeChat is growing quickly in overseas markets. Tencent announced on July 3 that WeChat has accrued over 70 million registered overseas users, a sharp jump from the 40 million users it claimed it had back in April.
“The software has been especially successful in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and the Philippines,”said Martin Lau, President of Tencent, at a developer conference held in Beijing on July 3.
To further expand its user coverage, Tencent has unveiled an advertising campaign featuring internationally famed soccer star Lionel Messi to run in 15 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, India, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Spainand Turkey.
WeChat has adopted a localization strategy when branching out by hiring celebrities as part of its marketing efforts. A much-loved feature of WeChat is a wide range of cartoon emoticons that users can send to each other, called emoji. With overseas markets in mind, WeChat hasd esigned emoticons featuring local big names. For instance, in India, Tencent roped in popular Bollywood actors Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan as brand ambassadors. Emotes featuring the two Bollywood stars caused a sensation in the country. WeChat is also working closely with businesses overseas and is cooperating with Chang, a well-known beverage company in Thailand.
WeChat’s fun features coupled with Tencent’s strong marketing skills have made the app popular across different markets and helped the app’s popularity soar. User growth is one encouraging sign for the tech company, one of several Chinese Internet companies that have ambitions to expand their businesses abroad. “Successful or not, this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Tencent,” said Ma Huateng, co-founder and Board Chairman of Tencent, speaking about Tencent’s global layout.
While boosting popularity among users outside China, WeChat is faced with competition in the global mobile-chat app market from WhatsApp, Line and Kakao from South Korea.
WhatsApp announced in June it has racked up over 250 million active monthly users worldwide. Line announced on July 23 that it has amassed 200 million global users, and Kakao said in July that the number of its users has topped 95 million. The four are bound to duke it out in the global market.
WeChat has made a splash in emerging nations, especially in Southeast Asia, and has yet to gain a foothold in a large developed economy like the United States, a highly coveted market. By the end of September 2012, there were 100,000 registered WeChat users in theUnited States, a distant cry from the numbers WeChat will need to make an impact beyond the limited population of Chinese-Americans and Chinese students studying there. To that end, Tencent opened an office in February to study the US market and form partnerships with US firms to boost the app’s popularity.
In comparison with the boom in Southeast Asia, WeChat is in its nascent stages of development inthe United States. WeChat faces stiff competition from Line and the Japanese company also has designs on the US market. For now, it’s unclear exactly how WeChat stacks up against its rivals in the battle for the UnitedS tates.
“The US market is a difficult and important one for any Internet company. Many first-class Internet products and companies were born there. The US market is highly sought out by many foreigncompanies and products, and WeChat is no exception,” reads a recent statement from Tencent in February.
“The United States is the most difficult market to tap in our global campaign,” said Ma. “China’s Internet companies lag far behind their globally successful peers and have never been a globals uccess. But now mobile phone and Internet use is developing faster in Asia than in the West. This has given China’s Internet companies a precious opportunity to surpass Western ones,” said Ma, who touts that WeChat is more innovative and user-friendly than its rivals.
But one major concern has Tencent worried: If its popularity grows, could other nations erect the same kind of roadblocks to expansion that have plagued Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei and ZTE? Both companies have seen their efforts to expand into the United States halted over “national security” concerns.
WeChat has already run into such resistance. India’s intelligence bureau has reportedly proposed a ban on WeChat, saying that the app has already possessed too much personal information on Indians. The United States and other Western nations may suggest the same, fearing that too much citizen data could easily fall into the hands of the Chinese Government.
In response, a spokeswoman for Tencent said, “We have taken user data protection seriously in our product development and daily operations, and like other international peers, we comply with relevant laws in the countries where we have operations.”
Given the recent revelations that the US National Security Agency has been snooping on the e-mails of Americans, users may have few nagging doubts about downloading the Chinese app.
Another issue is whether China’s global image will hold back WeChat in international markets since China is often associated with producing cheap, low-quality products. Persistent foods candals and toxic toys have created a lack of trust of Chinese-made goods in developed countries and beyond.
Duncan Clark, Chairman of BDA China, a consulting firm that specializes in China’s technology and Internet sectors, told The New York Times that WeChat has the potential to overcome anylingering doubts in the West over the made-in-China label, saying potential users would haveno idea the product is Chinese when visiting, for example, an app store, thereby leveling theplaying field for mobile-chat app developers.
Robin Pinsto, a 54-year-old WeChat user in Canada, said she was surprised the app is Chinese.
“I started using WeChat six months ago and I use it every day now. I think WeChat is even better than WhatsApp, with its wide range of cartoon images and other functions,” said Pinsto. “I think WeChat has a shot at being a global success.”
Tseretzoulias, the office administrator in Montreal, has no qualms about WeChat’s origins.
“It doesn’t concern me which country developed it, as long as it’s good to use.”
China’s online population hits 591 million [Shanghai Daily via Xinhuanet, July 18, 2013]
China’s Internet population reached 591 million by the end of June, fueled by a booming mobile Internet user base, a top industry group said yesterday.
More than 70 percent of the new users accessed the Internet via smartphones or other wireless devices. These users are already accustomed to services like instant messaging such as Tencent’s WeChat and payment modes like Alibaba’s Alipay on handsets, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a government-authorized Internet research organization based in Beijing.
CNNIC publishes China’s Internet development report twice a year, which is regarded as an authoritative dot-com review of the country.
“The traditional Internet applications (e-mail and search engine) have developed smoothly in the period but mobile Internet has come into the spotlight,” CNNIC said in a statement on its website.
By the end of June, China had 591 million Internet users, a 10 percent growth from a year ago, and indicating that 44.1 percent of the country’s population uses the web. The Internet penetration rate was 2 percentage points more from the end of last year, CNNIC revealed.
The growing web applications were online music, video, games and literature, according to CNNIC.
China’s mobile Internet user base reached 464 million by June, 78.5 percent of the total Internet users, compared with 72.2 percent a year ago, the center said.
Mobile Internet has become new economy development engine with an increasing number of users and latest innovation, according to Analysys International, a Beijing-based research firm.
WeChat, which is mainly used on mobile platforms, has attracted more than 400 million users in China within about a year. Its developer Tencent has launched WeChat in overseas markets and expects to reach the 500-million user mark soon.
GSMA, a global mobile communications industry association, said last month that by 2017, the Asia Pacific region will have 1.9 billion mobile subscribers, accounting for almost half of the predicted global total of 3.9 billion.
The popularity of smartphones and wider coverage of 3G network, which provides faster web access, will continue to boost the user base of mobile Internet, CNNIC added.
And there is tremendous growth ahead. Here are the latest quarterly trends for the current situation of the mobile Internet according to operators’ company data:
China’s H1 telecom income up 8.9% [Xinhua, July 24, 2013]
China’s telecom business income increased 8.9 percent year on year in the first half of 2013, with 319 million users of 3G technology, a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) official said on Wednesday.
At a press conference about the communication industry, Zhu Hongren, the MIIT’s chief engineer, also said that from January to May, the country’s information consumption surged 19.8 percent year on year to 1.38 trillion yuan (223.68 billion U.S. dollars).
He said the mobile Internet sector has grown along with broadband access, online shopping and mobile payments.
Information consumption has become a new way to stimulate domestic demand and has been crucial in boosting China’s economy as foreign trade of goods and services only contributed 0.9 percent to the gross domestic product in the first half of 2013.
Zhu said China had more than 400 million users of Weixin, a popular free WhatsApp-like messaging service with all the functions of short messaging service (SMS) by the end of June.
The application, developed by one of the country’s largest information technology (IT) companies, Tencent Holdings Ltd., helped income through mobile Internet data traffic rise “56.8 percent in the January-June period,” according to Zhu.
Thanks to new platforms like Weixin and Sina Weibo, China’s most popular Twitter-like microblog, the country’s e-commerce market size grew 38.5 percent year on year to 5.4 trillion yuan and sales of smart phones and televisions both surged over 25 percent, Zhu added.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang demanded at a meeting of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, on July 12 an average growth rate of over 20 percent in information consumption in the next three years.
Zhu Jun, another MIIT’s official, said the ministry is mapping out measures to realize the growth objective through building and upgrading the network communication infrastructure, enhancing the application and service of 3G technology and promoting the private capital in the telecom market.
Meanwhile, the government will push the share of education and medical treatment resources, encourage innovation in e-commerce and strengthen the safety of private network information, Zhu Jun added.
Digitimes Research: China 3G service subscribers to top 300 million in 1H13 [DIGITIMES Research, June 26, 2013]
The number of 3G service subscribers in China is expected to top 322 million by the end of the first half of 2013, representing a penetration rate of 27.1%. Meanwhile, sales of smartphones in China will total 170 million units in the first half of 2013, up 51% on the prior six-month period, according to Digitimes Research.
In the second quarter of 2013, Samsung Electronics delivered a total of 14.5 million smartphones, including entry-level to mid-range 3G models and the high-end Galaxy S4, in China, accounting for a 15.7% share.
Lenovo ranked second with smartphone shipments totaling 8.6 million units in the second quarter, followed by Coolpad with 8.4 million units, Huawai with 8.0 million units and Apple with 7.7 million units.
Buoyed by brisk sales of its 3.5-inch entry-level models and CNY1,000 (US$163) dual-core models, Coolpad outperformed both Huawei and Apple to take the third-rank title in China in the second quarter and accounted for a 9.1% share.
Sales of Apple smartphones were lower than expected in the second quarter as the US-based vendor did not release any new models during the period. But Apple may see its sales rebound in the second half of 2013, powered by the planned launch of a low-priced model as well as a TD-SCDMA version iPhone.
The penetration rate of 3G telecom services in China is expected to reach 30-40% for all of 2013, and total smartphone sales will reach 390 million units in the year, including 280 million units sold through the retail channels of telecom carriers, estimated Digitimes Research.
The world biggest operator, Chinal Mobile is heavily increasing its 3G penetration. Here are the latest monthly change trends for the current situation according to operators’ company data:
CBBC Webinar – The Evolution of Social Business in China [China-Britain Business Council YouTube channel, recorded on July 17, published on July 30, 2013]
Half of Chinese urban kids surf Internet [Xinhua, July 30, 2013]
About half, or 52.6 percent, of kids aged four to six in urban areas of China know how to use the Internet, according to a report on the lifestyle of Chinese children.
In the survey, which covered 9,114 four-16 year olds in 10 provincial areas or cities including Beijing, Wuhan and Qingdao, 93.2 percent of 13-16 year olds have used the Internet, The Beijing Times cited the report as saying on Saturday.
The report put the proportion of seven-nine year olds and 10-12 year olds accessing the Internet at 58.6 and 77.1 percent respectively, according to The Beijing Times.
In addition, it showed that 57.5 percent of the respondents use mobile phones, about 26 percent use Twitter-like microblogs, and 17.9 percent use tablet computers.
China’s netizen population, the world’s largest, continues to grow and reached 591 million at the end of June, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.
Beijing launches platform for debunking online rumors [Xinhua, Aug 1, 2013]
Six Chinese websites jointly launched a platform on Thursday to refute online rumors, a move that an official has termed Beijing’s latest endeavor to clean up the “Internet environment.”
The platform is a website that collects statements from Twitter-like services, news portals and China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, to refute online rumors and expose the scams of phishing websites.
The platform operates under the instruction of the Beijing Internet Information Office (BIIO) and the Beijing Internet Association, a non-profit social organization.
The popular use of the Internet has expanded Chinese people’s channels of expression, but also facilitated the circulation of rumors and false information, said Chen Hua, director of the Internet information service and management department under the BIIO.
“The platform will be a new try by Beijing’s websites to eradicate online rumors and raise Internet users’ awareness of telling rumors from the truth,” he said.
The platform was jointly launched by websites Qianlong, Sogou, Sohu, Netease, Baidu and Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like microblogging service.
So far, the first phase of the platform has been completed, said Chen.
It has collected about 100,000 brief statements on online rumors and phishing websites and offered Internet users about 30 websites through which they can report online rumors or scams.
Operators of the platform will spend another year finishing the second phase. Once that is complete, more entertaining and interactive programs will be introduced to encourage the public to report online rumors.
WHY RUMORS TRAVEL FAST
Some Internet users create rumors to attract attention, while others do it to blow off some steam. But rumors fabricated on purpose can be dangerous and incite panic, said Min Dahong, a researcher on Internet usage.
Based on Wu Chenguang’s observations, rumors travel especially fast in times of emergency such as natural disasters and other mass incidents.
Wu is the news center director of Sohu. In June last year, the web portal’s news center launched a program called “Rumor Terminator” and has handled 300 rumors to date.
Soon after downpours hit Beijing on July 21, 2012, Internet users began disseminating photos of severe flooding that had been taken years earlier.
Another example involves rumors about earthquake forecasts. Internet users claim that people had successfully predicted that an earthquake would shake Lushan County, Sichuan Province, as early as five years ago, but these claims weren’t made until after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Lushan County on April 20, leaving at least 196 dead.
Such rumors had an extremely harmful influence, Wu Chenguang said, adding that the government’s slow pace in releasing information has allowed Internet users to spread their rumors easily.
When explaining why rumors travel fast in China, Min Dahong proposed that it is because rumors touch on issues of common concern.
The Chinese people now care about their surroundings. Rumors travel fast because they cater to public curiosity and concern about environmental protection, food safety and corruption, he said.
2. Online shopping growing very fast
CBBC Webinar – yourcompany com cn — Online Presence in China [China-Britain Business Council YouTube channel, recorded on Jan 16, published on July 30, 2013]
China Focus: Online shopping penetrates smalltown China [Xinhua, July 30, 2013]
Online shopping is no longer exclusively for city dwellers, as residents of smaller locales are now spending more money buying goods on the Internet.
People living in counties and townships each spent an average of 5,628 yuan (910.7 U.S. dollars) online in 2012, almost 1,000 yuan more than their urban counterparts, according to a report released Monday by Taobao, China’s leading online shopping website.
The report showed that township residents placed an average of 54 orders each on Taobao in 2012, far more than the 39 orders placed by e-shoppers living in China’s first- and second-tier cities.
Major international brands like Estee Lauder have sold well in counties and townships. Shoppers in those locations spent an average of 765 yuan apiece on Estee Lauder cosmetics, slightly more than the 652 yuan spent by first- and second-tier city residents.
Over 30 million county residents spent a combined total of 179 million yuan on Taobao, according to figures posted online by the company.
Although residents’ incomes tend to be lower in small towns and counties, their online spending habits are similar to those of urban residents, according to a report released in March by McKinsey Global Institute.
The McKinsey report said that for every 100 yuan spent online, 57 yuan is spent by people in third- and fourth-tier cities, greater than the national average of 39 yuan.
The county-level city of Yiwu, ranked by Forbes as the richest county in China, topped the Taobao ranking, with online spending totaling 3.4 billion yuan.
Residents in Qingliu County in southeast China’s Fujian Province spent a staggering 20,151 yuan, or 72.55 percent of their combined income, on online shopping. In first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the ratio has yet to exceed 27 percent.
The report also showed that 22 percent of Taobao customers in small towns used its mobile application to shop online. But the percentage declined to 17 percent in first- and second-tier cities.
Commentary: Global online shopping benefits Chinese manufacturers [Xinhua, July 16, 2013]
With just a few clicks on a shopping website, a Nigerian girl buys her favorite wig, to be delivered to her home several days later from China.
That was a scene shown Sunday by Chinese national broadcaster CCTV.
An African girl buying Chinese products on the Internet is, by no means, an isolated case. In fact, cross-border online shopping has become quite a frenzy in recent years.
Despite that, though, online sales of Chinese-made goods in foreign markets are still a new phenomenon and represent a strategic opportunity for China’s giant manufacturing sector.
If the popularity of global online shopping continues to grow, it would provide a vital channel for China to sell more of its products to the rest of the world. In the long run, it may even reshape the face of global trade.
Overseas consumers can save a lot of money by purchasing quality goods from China via the Internet because the products are generally cheaper than their counterparts from elsewhere in the world.
This comparative advantage has made Chinese goods popular among online shoppers in Russia, Brazil, America and Europe. Chinese-made commodities such as clothes, suitcases, mobile phones and shoes are among the best-selling items.
In the larger picture, the trend may also help modify the unfair distribution of profits in global trade.
China has been the world’s largest exporter since 2009. However, it receives only a small portion of the profits generated by goods that are domestically produced but sold through retailers in developed economies.
The situation may be corrected, though, if online shopping continues to prosper across the globe and the made-in-China label can be brought directly to individual consumers.
Global online shopping, however, is still in its infancy and its future is closely tied to the development of online payment mechanisms, cross-border deliveries and tax issues.
It is safe to say, meanwhile, that online shopping is a rising wave sweeping the globe. Online shopping boasts unprecedented vitality and its significant role for Chinese-made goods should not be underestimated.
Mobile payment new technology [NFC] changing ways of consumption [CCTVupdates YouTube channel, July 3, 2013]
Beijing China Mobile users can make purchases with phone [cntv.cn via Xinhuanet, July 23, 2013]
Transit cards make taking the bus and subway in Beijing an easy thing. But they may soon be unnecessary.
Starting Monday, China Mobile users can use near-field-communication, or NFC-enabled handsets to get access to public buses and subway lines in Beijing. They can also make payments below 1,000 yuan at a number of up-scale shops. Beijing China Mobile customers can visit any of six designated China Mobile shops to switch their SIM cards out for new ones that will allow them to connect their phones to their bank accounts.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4, the HTC One, and some Huawei and ZTE models can support NFC functions.
China’s mobile payments to exceed 9 trln yuan in 2015: report [Xinhua, July 30, 2013]
Online payment transactions handled by Chinese mobile payment service providers will exceed 9 trillion yuan (1.45 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2015, according to an industry report published on Monday.
In 2012, the country’s mobile banking sector handled 800 billion yuan in online payment transactions, an increase of 265.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a report published by the Internet Society of China (ISC).
Last year, the country’s online payments rose 66 percent to nearly 3.7 trillion yuan, with fast growth in payments on premiums, according to the report.
Online premiums payments grew 123.8 percent year on year to 3.66 billion yuan in 2012, the report said.
The country’s online payment market is maturing with an accelerated growth of internet finance, said Shi Xiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the ISC.
Online payment transactions handled by Chinese payment service providers totaled 830 trillion yuan in 2012, according to data from the Payment & Clearing Association of China (PCAC).
China’s online payments total 830 trln yuan in 2012 [Xinhua, June 27, 2013]
Online payment transactions handled by Chinese payment service providers totaled 830 trillion yuan (about 134.3 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2012, according to an industry report published on Thursday.
In 2012, banks handled 19.2 billion online payment transactions totaling 823 trillion yuan, according to a report published by the Payment & Clearing Association of China (PCAC).
Another 10.46 billion online payment transactions amounting to 6.89 trillion yuan were handled by other payment agencies last year, the report said.
Online transactions are being used not only in traditional areas, such as online shopping and bill-paying, but also in areas related to education, tourism, fund products, insurance, community services and medical and health services, the report said.
But experts noted that the increasing variety of payment tools has also caused problems concerning the safety of funds and customer information, calling for strengthened regulation and supervision.
“The payment business is closely linked with people’s daily lives, so customers will be less tolerant of risks,” said PCAC’s deputy secretary-general Kang Lin.
The People’s Bank of China, or the central bank, has so far approved 197 non-financial institutions to provide payment services, of which 72 are eligible for online payment business, tPCAC data showed.
The association said mobile payments, or online payments made through mobile phones, totaling 2.31 trillion yuan were handled by banks in 2012, as well as 181.2 billion yuan in transactions handled by non-bank payment service providers.
Alibaba, e-concierge, soon at your service [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, July 26, 2013]
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd plans to boost its presence in China’s online market, and is adding services to ease consumers’ daily lives, from ordering food to booking movie tickets.
The company expects the new business area to become a major revenue source in the future.
Online shopping has become a new way of life for many Chinese consumers, said Zhang Jianfeng, vice-president of Alibaba Group. And the company has realized that customers are not satisfied with merely buying items on Internet.
“Gradually, consumers are developing a strong demand for daily life services, in fields like catering, entertainment and travel,” Zhang said at a Beijing news conference on Thursday.
Taobao Life, a platform owned by Alibaba that provides such services, has been receiving unprecedented attention from Alibaba’s management since the beginning of the year. In March, Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma said that “amazing” things will happen if everyday activities are combined with mobile Internet services.
Ma compared the growing importance of e-commerce in people’s lives to “the rising sun at 5 or 6 am”, and Alibaba expressed its ambition to develop the new business to reach a scale similar to its booming Taobao Marketplace.
If so, investors who are eyeing Alibaba’s possible initial public offering will find another bright spot for the company’s future profitability, analysts said.
Alibaba is said to be planning to include its e-commerce platforms – Taobao Mall, Taobao Marketplace and eTao – into the planned IPO package. Last year, Taobao Mall and Taobao Marketplace posted about 1 trillion yuan ($163 billion) in total transaction value.
Zhang revealed that the Taobao Life platform has three strategic business sectors. One is Taobao Diandian, a mobile application launched in July that helps customers order food. More than 100 restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou have opened services on Diandian.
Meanwhile, Taobao Movie is the nation’s biggest mobile platform to buy film tickets. It allows clients in more than 100 Chinese cities to select seats from about 800 theaters, Zhang said.
The company also set up a platform on Taobao Life, known as Offer, which provides people with classifieds in areas such as apartment rentals and housekeeping services.
Song Yang, e-commerce senior analyst with the Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, said that there’s a promising future for companies able to successfully combine people’s everyday needs with the Internet-based services.
“There are no official statistics about the size of the market, but this is the future of e-commerce. Because the services are all about making people’s everyday life better and easier, ” Song said.
Video Alibaba Group launches China Smart Logistics Network [CCTVupdates YouTube channel, May 30, 2013]
Tencent invests in Fab, takes on Alibaba [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, June 20, 2013]
US e-commerce website Fab.com said on Wednesday it had raised investment of $150 million from companies including Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Analysts said Tencent may help Fab enter the Chinese online market, which is expected to record nearly 2 trillion yuan ($326 billion) in sales by the end of this year.
Shenzhen-based Tencent said it will make a “minority investment” in the US company, but has not disclosed the value of its investment.
Tencent will have a seat in Fab’s boardroom after the deal is done.
Fab could take on as much as $100 million in further investment over the following months, company CEO Jason Goldberg told The Wall Street Journal.
The funds will be used to build its online stores, develop exclusive products and expand its international footprint, he said.
“Fab is one of the leading online design retailers in the world. Tencent believes Fab has the potential to further develop under the wave of the global, social and mobile transformation of the e-commerce industry,” Tencent said via e-mail.
Founded in June 2011, Fab recorded revenue of $120 million last year. That figure is likely to reach $250 million by the end of this year, tech news website TNW said.
The Manhattan-based startup has 14 million registered members.
Tencent said its social strength and technical capabilities will help bring Fab to Internet users around the world.
Fab’s other investors include Japanese retail conglomerate Itochu Corp, an indication the company may be looking toward Asian markets.
China’s online shopping business is dominated by the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The company’s customer-to-customer platform, Taobao, contributed roughly 70 percent of the sector’s turnover. Alibaba also owns Tmall, the country’s No 1 business-to-customer portal.
Tencent has been vigorously building up its e-commerce segments to challenge Alibaba’s dominance. Its most recent attempt is authorizing payments via WeChat, its popular smartphone application.
Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center revealed that China had 242 million online shoppers by the end of 2012 – or more than 40 percent of the country’s entire Internet population.
Internet giants enter online pay market [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, July 11, 2013]
Chinese Internet giants Baidu Inc and Sina Corp received third party payment licenses from the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, to conduct related online payment services within the country.
According to the bank, the two Internet companies received official approval on July 6. Both companies were granted a five-year permission to conduct Internet payment businesses. Sina, which operates the twitter-like micro-blogging service Weibo, also got the nod to run a mobile phone payment business.
It means all major Chinese Internet companies, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, have obtained third party payment licenses. Alipay, the online payment arm of Alibaba, together with Tencent’s Tenpay, were among the first companies to receive licenses from the People’s Bank of China – in May 2011.
The reasons why Baidu and Sina are latecomers in the online payment industry, even lagging far behind some Chinese telecom companies, is because their online payment branches are weak and didn’t receive much attention from their management, said Zhang Meng, an analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.
“Baidu’s and Sina’s application for online payment licenses have more strategic significance than immediate practical meaning for the two,” Zhang said.
Sina started to explore the Internet payment business in 2011. It launched the online payment tool SinaPay that year and upgraded the service into WeiboPay (micro-blogging wallet) in 2012. Every Weibo user automatically has a WeiboPay account. Sina said it hopes to provide a more convenient way for micro-blogging users to conduct transactions online and developers to charge users for products and services.
Sina Weibo introduced Alibaba as a stakeholder in May to act as a bridge for Sina to make use of the Alipay service. Analysts said it’s safer for Sina to have its own payment tool as it’s important to keep transaction data in Sina’s own realm.
“An online payment service will prompt Sina Weibo’s commercialization process,” Zhang said. Previously, Sina had made some attempts to generate money from its Weibo platform. It cooperated with mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi Corp to sell Xiaomi smartphones through WeiboPay last year. However, some shoppers complained after WeiboPay was paralyzed for a while through excessive use.
Baidu started investigating an online payment service as early as 2008 but the company’s enthusiasm for it cooled alongside the fall of its e-commerce business Baidu Youa.
Alibaba’s Alipay still dominates the Chinese Internet payment market. According to a report issued by Analysys International, Alipay had a 46.3 percent share of the online payment market in the first quarter of 2013, followed by Tencent’s Tenpay, with 20.3 percent.
Alipay had a total of 800 million registered accounts by the end of April. Tenpay said it had 200 million registered users by the end of last year.
Alibaba´s new online investment tool faces regulation challenge [CCTVupdates YouTube channel, June 24, 2013]
Say no to streaking to ensure online payment security [CRIENGLISH.com via Xinhuanet, April 12, 2013]
Seven leading internet companies, including Baidu, Microsoft and Alibaba, have formed an Internet Security Working Group.
It’s hoped the new collaboration will help lead to the better safeguarding of users’ and companies’ online profiles.
While Consumers enjoy the ease and the financial benefits of online shopping, sometimes their financial security and personal information can be threatened during the online payment process.
Many so-called phishing scams and malicious websites try to cheat consumers by convincing them to transfer money to their accounts instead of an online dealer’s accounts.
Li Xiaoling is a product manager with Alipay, the largest third-party payment company in China.
“Phishing websites imitate a popular website, like taobao.com and some other shopping websites. Consumers have to tell from small details whether they are really the websites that they want to visit.”
Ding Rui, a senior product manager with Microsoft, says no matter how strong systems become, phishing websites will never completely disappear.
“Driven by a strong financial interest, someone always wants to take the risk. And the word ‘risk’ is not so accurate, as there isn’t too much risk as a result of a lack of supervision and difficulty in handing out punishment.”
Alipay began fighting the problem of phishing sites at the end of 2007.
Li Qiushi is Alipay’s leading expert on market security.
“Actually, merchants, payment platforms, banks and consumers online are all victims of such behavior. We joined together to prevent these problems from occurring in advance initially. That has yielded noticeable effects.”
To be more alert, Alipay product manager Li Xiaoling suggests web users don’t access the internet without some sort of internet protection, such as an anti-virus software program or other safe control programs.
“Firstly, we hope consumers do not use the same pass code for various accounts online. Secondly, do not input personal information like ID numbers into unfamiliar websites or into those websites that the browser reports as being dangerous. Thirdly, check clearly the usage of different verification codes and do not tell strangers the codes.”
The internet companies taking part in the collaboration say it’s their hope they can raise consumer awareness to try to bring down the number of cases of online fraud here in China.
3. Applications, applications to be added to the search
Baidu to buy 91 Wireless for 1.9 bln USD [Xinhua, July 16, 2013]
China’s leading search engine, Baidu, Inc. announced Tuesday that it will buy all equity interests in smartphone apps distributor 91 Wireless Websoft from NetDragon for a record 1.9 billion U.S. dollars.
The move, which is Baidu’s latest effort to diversify beyond its core search engine business, is set to mark China’s biggest merger and acquisition (M&A) in the Internet market after Yahoo’s 1-billion-U.S. dollar deal with Alibaba in 2005.
According to the MOU, Baidu will purchase the entire issued share capital of 91 Wireless for a total of 1.9 billion U.S. dollars.
Baidu and NetDragon will further negotiate and agree on the relevant terms of the proposed acquisition by Aug. 14 as the “Long Stop date” to buy Hong Kong-listed NetDragon’s 57.41-percent stake in 91 Wireless.
NetDragon is restricted from approaching or discussing with any third parties the sale of 91 Wireless.
Baidu said it intends to purchase the remaining equity interests in 91 Wireless from other shareholders based on terms and conditions similar to those offered to NetDragon, if they are willing to sell by Aug. 14.
In May, Baidu announced its plan to buy the online video business of PPS to rival industry leader Youku Tudou, which was created last year through the merger of the country’s two major video giants, Youku and Tudou.
The deal came on the heels of Alibaba‘s announcement in April that it would take an 18-percent share in Sina Corp‘s microblogging service Weibo and a 28-percent stake in digital mapping company AutoNavi Holdings Ltd.
Experts said the M&A spree highlights the intense competition among Internet giants to secure dominance of the mobile Internet market, as an increasing number of Chinese are going online through mobile devices.
Data from the China Internet Networks Information Center show that China’s online population reached 564 million as of the end of last year, with the number of mobile Internet users hitting 420 million.
Baidu, 91 Wireless deal epitomizes mobile Internet scramble [Xinhua, July 17 2013]
The attempt by China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, to buy a leading apps platform epitomizes Chinese Internet giants’ quickening steps in mobile Internet, even though some question if the company to be bought is worth the price offered.
NASDAQ-listed Baidu Inc. announced on Tuesday its bid to buy all equity interests in smartphone apps distributor 91 Wireless Websoft for 1.9 billion U.S. dollars. The deal, if completed, will mark China’s biggest merger and acquisition in the Internet market after Yahoo’s 1-billion-U.S. dollar deal with Alibaba in 2005.
Analysts viewed the alliance as complementary in that Baidu will promote 91 Wireless’s smartphone app distribution systems, and in return, Baidu will be better able to contend for a position as a leading access portal for mobile Internet.
“Through the acquisition, Baidu not only gains access to app distribution, it will also attract around 100,000 app developers to its own platform in the future,” according to Ge Jia, an Internet analyst who was quoted in a Tuesday report by the Beijing News.
Ge said that digital mapping, voice, and app distribution represent the three battle grounds in the mobile Internet market in the future, and the deal could turn around Baidu’s current disadvantages in a market that already boasts strong rivals including Tencent and Alibaba.
On the same day as Baidu’s announcement, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba also confirmed that it has made a strategic investment in outbound travel site qyer.com, as it seeks to boost its travel offerings, including plane tickets and hotels, on its marketplace site Taobao.
Industrial analysts even labeled this year’s mergers and acquisitions in the Internet industry as major players’ efforts to split the mobile Internet market and obtain a lion’s share.
In May, Baidu announced its plan to buy the online video business of PPS in order to rival industry leader Youku Tudou. Just one month earlier, Alibaba revealed it would take an 18-percent share in Sina Corp’s microblogging service Weibo and a 28-percent stake in digital mapping company AutoNavi Holdings Ltd.
Ge Jia said that Baidu expects to attract large numbers of advertisers through its purchase of 91 Wireless. Data shows that 12.9 billion apps had been downloaded through 91 Wireless’s two leading smartphone app distribution platforms in China as of Dec. 2012.
However, some believe that the 1.9-bln-U.S.-dollar tender by Baidu is too high for a company with an estimated value of only 140 million U.S. dollars two years ago.
“Baidu has no better choices because its strategic arrangements for the mobile Internet came too late and it has been at a disadvantaged position. So it is seeking to change the status quo through the costly deal,” said Wang Jun, a mobile Internet analyst with Analysys International.
Data from the China Internet Networks Information Center show that China’s online population reached 564 million as of the end of last year, with more than 74 percent of them, or 420 million, using cell phones to access the Internet.
“The Internet giants will not miss any opportunity amid the boom of mobile Internet,” said IT commentator Hong Bo. In a report published Tuesday by the China Business News, Hong said that Alibaba’s advantages lie in its strong capabilities to do business, while Tencent has flagship apps including WeChat, a free app that enables all-round communications in text, voice, picture and video form.
However, the commentator added that with advantages in technology, Baidu is also seeking to become a titan in app distribution through the acquisition of 91 Wireless.
Official stresses Party building in non-public enterprises [Xinhua, May 22, 2013]
A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official has called for efforts to strengthen Party building in the country’s non-public enterprises.
Zhao Leji, head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the comments on Wednesday during an inspection in Beijing.
Visiting Baidu, China’s leading online search engine operator, Zhao called for more efforts to integrate businesses’ own developments with the progress of the country and society.
Moreover, the fostering of a corporate culture should be consistent with the practicing of socialist core values, the official said.
During his inspection, Zhao also underlined efforts to improve China’s talent pool, including innovations to attract, train, use and support talented people.
China’s Internet giants in acquisition spree [Xinhua, May 14, 2013]
China’s Internet giants have gone on a new acquisition spree in recent months as they ramp up efforts to diversify businesses amid the industry’s constantly changing dynamics.
Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce firm, announced last week that it will pay 294 million U.S. dollars for a 28-percent stake in digital mapping company AutoNavi Holdings Ltd..
The move, following Alibaba’s previous deal to take an 18-percent share in Sina Corp’s microblogging service Weibo, is the giant’s latest attempt to map out a strategy in the key mobile Internet market, in which major companies have been vying for presence.
Li Zhi, an analyst with Internet service provider Analysys, noted that rather than developing new products on their own, the Internet giants have preferred to make up for their weak areas through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to consolidate their positions.
Earlier this month, China’s online search leader Baidu Inc. announced its plan to buy the online video business of PPS, to rival industry leader Youku Tudou, which was created last year through the merger of the country’s two major video giants, Youku and Tudou.
The purchase is Baidu’s latest step to diversify beyond its core search sector.
The string of M&A deals has highlighted the heated competition among Internet giants to secure dominance of the mobile Internet market as an increasing number of Chinese are going online through mobile devices.
Currently, Tencent, which has so far attracted 300 million users to its popular voice messaging platform Wechat, is widely regarded as having secured a dominant seat in the mobile Internet market.
But Ma Huateng, Tencent’s chairman and CEO, took a cautious view about the company’s position.
“No matter how well-placed we are now in the mobile market, a slight oversight may cause a shipwreck,” he said at an Internet conference earlier this month.
According to data from the China Internet Networks Information Center, China had 420 million mobile Internet users as of the end of 2012.
With the market potential yet to be tapped, the Internet giants’ M&A activity will likely to go on for a while, according to Li.
4. Xiaomi to take Apple place
Xiaomi takes aim at Apple after big increase in sales [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, July 17, 2013]
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi Corp said on Tuesday it sold 7.03 million Xiaomi mobile phones in the first half of this year and realized unaudited revenue of 13.3 billion yuan (2.16 billion U.S. dollars) during the same period.
According to a news release sent to China Daily, Xiaomi disclosed that its half-year revenue in 2013 exceeded the company’s 12.6 billion yuan revenue from all of 2012 but it did not reveal the profitability ratio.
The company is on track to reach its annual goal of selling 15 million Xiaomi smartphones by the end of the year, according to officials from Xiaomi’s public relations department on Tuesday.
As of June, Xiaomi had more than 14 million smartphone users on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the news release said.
Lei Jun, founder and chief executive officer of Xiaomi, attributed the good performance to the company’s more influential branding, better industry partner support and an improved logistics and warehouse system.
Founded in 2010, Xiaomi has experienced rapid growth. The company launched its first smartphones in August 2011 and quickly gained market share, beating some traditional mobile phone giants.
“In the Chinese market, with the exception of Apple and Samsung, if the shipment of one smartphone model exceeds 1 million during its life cycle, it can be described as ‘quite successful’,” said James Yan, an analyst with the research firm IDC China.
Xiaomi has managed to sell every one of its smartphone models above the 1 million level and is easily ahead of companies such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp in terms of single smartphone shipments, Yan added, pointing out the latter firms have been selling mobile phones for about a decade.
Xiaomi is now directly challenging international giants Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc, which both keep single smartphone sales records in China. According to IDC, Apple had sold about 16 million iPhone 4 and 15 million iPhone 4S handsets in China as of March.
Xiaomi’s Lei sees Apple as a target to overtake in the future. During a previous interview with China Daily, Lei expressed Xiaomi’s ambition to ship more than 100 million smartphones annually worldwide for each model by 2016.
Apple, based in Cupertino in the United States, managed to break the 100 million iPhone devices mark in 2012, less than five years since the first iPhone was sold in 2007.
Lei dreams of achieving a similar, or even faster, pace of development.
“I know it is crazy, but we would like to have a try,” Lei said last year.
[in the Q1 2013, see below]
Overall, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments in China, if they are not counted on the basis of single device shipments, are still small. The company even failed to become a top 10 smartphone supplier in China in the first quarter, according to the Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.
Samsung was the top smartphone company after acquiring a 17.3 percent share in the Chinese market in the first quarter, followed by Lenovo with 13.1 percent and Coolpad with 10.3 percent. The country had sales of 75.3 million smartphones, a year-on-year rise of 141.5 percent, in the first quarter ending on March 31.
Fewer Chinese consumers picking Apple’s iPhone [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, July 25, 2013]
Apple said on Tuesday that its revenue from China
fell 14 percent year-on-year to $4.6 billion in the
quarter ended June 29. Provided to China Daily
The devices are becoming so common in China these days that many people lost their once strong desire to own one. Also, iPhones are considered too expensive, and many consumers are opting for cheaper phones with similar capabilities.
And the Chinese market’s hesitation has showed in Apple’s latest quarterly financial report. Even though the California-based company delivered better-than-expected global iPhone shipments of 31.2 million units during the quarter ended June 29, its performance in Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, was sluggish in the period.
Apple said on Tuesday that its revenue from China fell 14 percent year-on-year to $4.6 billion in the quarter ended June 29. The figure, which represents a 43 percent decline from the previous quarter, marked the first time that revenue decreased in the region.
Overall, Apple’s quarterly global revenue remained flat at $35.3 billion.
Apple said its growth in the Chinese market had slowed, particularly due to economic headwinds. China’s GDP growth eased to 7.6 percent in the first half, compared with 7.8 percent a year earlier.
Apple’s chief executive officer Tim Cook said that he wasn’t discouraged by the numbers from just one 90-day period.
“I continue to believe that in the arc of time here, China is a huge opportunity for Apple,” Cook said on an earnings call on Tuesday.
However, analysts believe that fiercer competition, together with other factors, played a much bigger role in Apple’s lackluster performance in China than the macro-economic effects.
“The iPhone 5 was less popular than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, in China during the first 100 days after they hit the market,” said James Yan, an analyst with research firm IDC. IPhone 5 handsets also saw stronger competition from brands such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and HTC Corp, as well as some local brands like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Xiaomi Corp, Yan said.
Meanwhile, Chinese telecom operators have cut their subsidies for iPhone 5 devices.
“Consumers and industry partners adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward the iPhone 5,” Yan said. On the consumer side, they started to look for other high-quality smartphones with lower prices, or they are planning to buy the upcoming iPhone 5S or the iPhone 6, which seem to be more innovative products, he added.
Kevin Wang, an analyst with IHS iSuppli, said that Apple’s pricing strategy also discouraged some first-time smartphone buyers and low-end customers. A 16 GB iPhone 5 costs at least 5,000 yuan ($809.80), more than the average monthly salary of people working in Beijing.
“The situation will only change when Apple introduces a less-expensive version of the iPhone, then we’ll see a new sales surge in the country,” Wang said.
For instance, Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei, which in recent years expanded to the smartphone market, launched its P6 model in June, targeting high-end users but selling at a mere 2,688 yuan.
Huawei said on Wednesday that its first-half revenue was 113.8 billion yuan, up 10.8 percent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, the Beijing-based Xiaomi is selling high-quality smartphones at extremely low prices, usually below 2,000 yuan. Xiaomi said it sold more than 7 million smartphones in the first half.
But Apple still has ways to protect its status as a major player in China, said Xiang Ligang, a telecom industry insider.
Xiang said that Apple will likely quicken the pace of its collaboration talks with China Mobile Ltd, the nation’s biggest telecom operator, to boost iPhone sales.
China Mobile and Apple have been in talks for years, but the two have yet to reach an agreement. Some industry sources said that the two companies will likely start cooperating soon, since all the preliminary work is done.
5. Strong central government support
IT push aims to boost domestic demand [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, July 14, 2013]
China is to promote consumption of IT-related products and services as it seeks to spur domestic demand and push economic upgrading.
It will speed up work to issue licenses for the fourth generation (4G) mobile network this year and accelerate development of broadband Internet access, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
The nation is aiming for annual average growth of 20 percent in the information consumption industry from 2013 to 2015, the statement said.
The meeting demanded implementation of the “Broadband China” strategy, stepped-up efforts to construct and upgrade network infrastructure, pushing forward the FTTH (Fiber To the Home) project and improving Internet speed.
China, which has the largest number of mobile phones in the world at 1.2 billion, is already building 4G trial networks in major cities.
Liu Lihua, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said last year that China aims to have more than 250 million broadband users by 2015.
The central government is also encouraging private capital to enter the basic telecom service market, such as the voice and messaging business, by setting up joint ventures with State-owned players.
Projects to merge telecommunications, television and Internet services will also move forward on a nationwide basis this year, according to Friday’s meeting.
The meeting also called for quicker development on energy saving, with the goal of ensuring the market share for efficient energy-saving products reaches 50 percent by 2015.
China eyes energy-saving, IT industries to spur domestic demand [Xinhua, July 12, 2013]
China is to speed up development in the energy-saving industry and promote consumption of IT-related products and services as it looks to spur domestic demand and push economic upgrading.
Stimulating growth in the two sectors is a multi-purpose approach aimed at easing resource restraints, unleashing consumption potential, stimulating effective investments and fostering emerging industries, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Friday.
Regarding IT-related consumption, including communication services and e-commerce, the State Council said China will press ahead with the construction of network and telecommunication infrastructure and strive to issue 4G licenses by the end of this year.
Efforts to boost consumption in the area also include widening Internet-based information services, piloting “smart city” schemes, boosting e-commerce, and increasing information securities.
Through these plans, China aims to achieve an annual growth of over 20 percent in IT-related consumption for the 2013-2015 period, the State Council said.
In the first five months of 2013, China consumed 1.38 trillion yuan (22.4 billion U.S. dollars) worth of IT-related products and services, up 19.8 percent year on year, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has showed.
Sub-anchor: China’s industrial structure optimized [CNETTV.cn via Xinhuanet, July 24, 2013]
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology held a press conference this morning — it’s about China’s industrial output in the first half of this year, and what’s being done to boost the IT industry.
Let’s chat to our reporter Guan Xin — who has been following the press conference.
Q2. IT industry is one of the strategic emerging industries, what initiatives can we expect?
A: The Ministry says IT will become a new engine to boost China’s consumption, with explosive growth of IT services and products. The spokesman shared some figures this morning….revenue from mobile internet traffic grew some 57% in the first half. The e-commerce market reached a whopping 5.4 trillion yuan, growing 38.5%, and sales of smart phones and smart TVs, are up more than 25%. The Ministry is now working on new measures to further boost IT consumption…including IT infrastructure building, expanding IT products supply, and improving public services. And these new measures will come out soon.
6. Country-wide 4G roll-out by year end 2013 after extensive trials
China’s telecom firms reveal 4G strategies [ChinaDaily.com.cn via Xinhuanet, June 27, 2013]
China’s three telecom operators have laid out their strategies on the development of fourth-generation, or 4G, mobile networks, as the official issuance of 4G licenses is expected to happen soon.
China Mobile Ltd – the world’s biggest telecom operator by subscribers – has always been an aggressive promoter of the domestic Time Division-Long Term Evolution, or TD-LTE, 4G technology.
Xi Guohua, its chairman, briefed the press on the company’s latest progress on TD-LTE network deployment at Shanghai’s Mobile Asia Expo on Wednesday.
Xi said that China Mobile has built more than 22,000 4G base stations in 15 Chinese cities, but that it plans to set up 200,000 base stations in 100 cities by the year-end.
However, the other two smaller Chinese telecom operators – China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd – have expressed their willingness to adopt the Frequency Division Duplex-Long Term Evolution, or FDD-LTE, technology, or at least to build a converged network under both standards.
TD-LTE and FDD-LTE are the two major 4G international standards, but the latter has gained more popularity across the globe and has stronger industry support.
Lu Yimin, general manager of China Unicom, said the company is conducting tests for 4G wireless networks with mixed technologies. It is the first time that China Unicom has admitted that it is actively preparing to launch 4G services.
However, Lu added that because the Chinese government has not yet awarded the 4G licenses, China Unicom’s final strategy is still “uncertain.” Lu also made the remarks at Shanghai’s Mobile Asia Expo.
Last weekend, Wang Xiaochu, China Telecom‘s chairman, confirmed that the company is stepping up efforts for its LTE network trials.
“It’s inevitable (for China Telecom) to adopt a converged network, since the spectrum is at the core of every carrier’s resources,” Wang said.
Even though Chinese authorities have not said exactly when they plan to issue the 4G licenses, industry experts expect the licenses to be awarded shortly.
He Shiyou, executive vice-president of ZTE, expressed an optimistic view on TD-LTE’s prospects in China.
“I think that all the three Chinese telecom carriers will get TD-LTE 4G licenses because the rich TD-LTE spectrum resources in China allow the government to do so,” he said.
Shang Bing, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the development of the TD-LTE technology has entered a fast-track phase.
“The Chinese government will firmly support TD-LTE industry development, and help create a favorable policy and market environment,” he said on Wednesday.
The moves by the three Chinese carriers will help to further back the development of 4G technology globally, said Anne Bouverot, director-general of the GSM Association, an industry alliance of mobile operators and related companies.
“In general, what matters is not to have the absolutely best technology, but that everybody agrees to deploy it. That’s where you get the economy of scale, and get the equipment for networks and handsets to improve each time there is a new release,” she said.
Analysts have said that LTE 4G technology will usher in a society much more connected and convenient for people.
Jin Lee, senior managing director at Accenture’s mobility department in South Korea, said that LTE will provide speeds about 50 percent higher than current Wi-Fi networks.
“Once consumers get to taste that speed, they will never go back,” Lee said.
BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhuanet) — Long-awaited 4G services, which provide mobile users with Internet access 20 to 50 times faster than 3G network, make their debut in Shanghai next month when China Mobile begins large-scale trials, the carrier said yesterday.
The trial in the world’s biggest mobile phone market indicates that the country is ready to adopt the most advanced mobile technology for more than a billion handset users, and create a billion-dollar market for telecommunications equipment and handsets. Full story
BEIJING, March 25 (Xinhuanet) — Foreign telecom companies are keen to join China’s fourth generation (4G) mobile network deployment with the country looking likely to issue the relevant licenses as early as this year.
Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei said the country is expected to award 4G licenses to domestic telecom operators by the end of 2013. Full story
BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) — China is expected to start licensing telecom operators to offer services on its fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone network within 2013, a senior official has said.
“China has made breakthroughs in R&D of 4G technologies, but is still facing restrictions in commercial use,” Miao Wei, minister of industry of information technology, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the country’s national legislature. Full story
China likely to issue 4G licenses by year end [CRIENGLISH.com via ChinaDaily, July 26, 2013]
Internet users in China are eagerly looking forward to ultra-fast 4G mobile Internet services.The anticipation has heated up following the government’s announcement that licenses tooperate such wireless system will be issued before the year’s end.
At a 4G service center of China Mobile in Henan’s Zhengzhou city, customers are trying out the new service with high expectations for faster speeds and easier access.
“I look forward very much to the availability of 4G service, which will be faster than the current3G network. But I’m not sure if it will be able to synchronize with televisions and other homeappliances.”
“I hope it will be launched soon. I really want to experience it as soon as possible.”
The fourth-generation wireless service is designed to deliver a speed four to ten times faster than today’s 3G system, the most widespread, high-speed wireless service at the moment.
China Mobile, China’s largest cell phone provider, is now promoting a homegrown 4G standard and hopes to start commercial rollout soon.
The core technologies are ready and the company has been ramping up installations of its base stations, which will be shared by both 3G and 4G networks.
Li Xiaobang is an engineer with China Mobile.
“We need to examine all the base stations currently used for 3G services, including the machine room and the roof, and carry out Long Term Evolution upgrade, either to F frequency band or to D frequency band, based on overall conditions of the base stations.”
According to Li, the company is hoping to finish the work as soon as possible so people can use the new service once the 4G license is issued.
The government says it will press ahead with building infrastructures and hopes to issue 4G licenses by the end of this year.
There are 1.2-billion mobile phones in China, more than any other country in the world.
New battle for 4G equipment market share [ChinaDaily, June 25, 2013]
China Mobile Ltd has officially launched its largest tender ever for the construction of its fourthgeneration (4G) network in China, igniting a new battle among telecom gear makers for marketshare.
On June 21, China Mobile, the world’s largest telecom operator by subscribers, posted an online tender saying it plans to purchase equipment for 207,000 4G base stations.
That purchase means the number of China Mobile’s 4G base stations is likely to catch up with that of its 3G base stations soon.
China Mobile is using the domestic Time Division-Long Term Evolution technology for its next-generation mobile network.
Unlike its 3G tenders, China Mobile said it will not accept agent bidders or those who make allcritical equipment on an original equipment manufacturing basis.
The Chinese telecom operator’s capital spending will jump 49 percent year-on-year to 190.2billion yuan ($30.5 billion) in 2013. More than half of the company’s network expenditure, or 42billion yuan, will go on 4G projects this year.
Foreign and domestic telecoms equipment vendors have shown strong interest in ChinaMobile’s 4G network deployment.
Yuan Xin, president of Alcatel-Lucent China, said he is very optimistic about achieving a satisfactory result in the third quarter, when China Mobile announces the final bidding results.
“TD-LTE business will be the core foundation for Alcatel Lucent’s future development,” Yuan said at a Shanghai news conference on Monday. China’s 4G industry is about to take off, since the market environment for LTE development has matured, he said. “Based on our solid technology and 4G experience in and out of China, we are confident of performing well,” headded.
Alcatel-Lucent had the largest share, or 14.5 percent, among foreign telecom gear makers during China Mobile’s first round of 4G tenders last year, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.
The company is the major telecom equipment supplier for Verizon Communications Inc’s 4G network, which covers about 200 million subscribers in the United States.
“We even dream of introducing TD-LTE technology to the US market, which follows the trendthat carriers worldwide want to make the best use of spectrum resources,” he said.
Because foreign telecom equipment vendors achieved less than a 30 percent market share in total during the first round bidding of China Mobile’s TD-LTE tender, they seemed more anxious to improve their positions by grabbing bigger shares this time.
“We are not satisfied with the results Ericsson achieved in China Mobile’s first-round 4G bidding last year,” said Mats H. Olsson, senior vice-president of Ericsson Asia-Pacific, duringthe 2013 Mobile World Congress held in Spain in February.
“In the past Ericsson paid a lot of attention to countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea and mainly focused on the deployment of FDD-LTE networks. Now we have turned our sights on China and TD-LTE technology,” Olsson said.
However, analysts argued that domestic rivals still hold advantages over foreign players. ChenPeng, analyst with China Merchants Securities Co Ltd, said he expected Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp to gain more than half of the share in China Mobile’s 4G bidding.
Guangxi to build wireless cities with 4G network [ChinaDaily Liuzhou Guangxi, June 25, 2013]
The Guangxi branch of China Mobile, which is the world’s biggest telecom carrier, said it will start construction of a fourth-generation network in 14 cities in the autonomous region in the second half of this year in a bid to build high-speed “wireless cities”.
Nanning, Liuzhou and Guilin are among the 14 cities, which will soon be covered in the 4G network in Guangxi. The 4G technology transmits data to wireless devices and has a theoretical speed as high as 100 Mbps.
It takes a 2G network 16 hours to download a 1 gigabyte movie, while it takes a 3G network two hours to download the same movie. The 4G network can complete the download within two minutes.
In addition, with the growing popularity of mobile phones, tablets and other wireless devices, 4G networks can effectively link people with each other and eventually build a convenient “wireless city”.
A woman surnamed Lin, who works in the media sector, said she is looking forward to the 4G networks in Guangxi. “We often need to carry a laptop on business trips in order to send stories back to our headquarters. With the 4G network, I will be able to do it with my mobile phone in the near future,” she said.
Though the 4G network is very high-end, the cost of using the network is even lower than 3G technology because 4G is a Chinese home grown technology.
China Mobile has spread its 4G network in 13 cities in China, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, and it plans to include 100 cities into its 4G network by the end of 2013. With the completion of the project, China Mobile is expected to build the largest 4G network in the world, covering 500 million people.
4G network covers Pingtan [ChinaDaily Pingtan Fujian, May 21, 2013]
The city of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, launched a fourth generation, or 4G, wireless Internet service on May 17, which was also World Telecommunication Day.
The 4G network mainly covers the downtown area within Second Ring Road, the university zone, and the Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone, said the Strait News on Saturday.
Fuzhou became a pilot city for 4G trial network in September 2012. After eight months of construction, it has built 1,138 base stations and carried out several rounds of signal upgrading.
With the launch of the 4G network, residents in both Fuzhou and Pingtan will enjoy free high-speed Wi-Fi to play videos, surf the Internet, and start online video chats on their mobile phones.
Telecom giants tap Internet potential [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, May 18, 2013]
Chinese telecom operators have stepped up their efforts to boost their business through exploring online channels, since more people in the country prefer shopping on the Internet.
On World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which fell on Friday, Chinese mobile carriers launched different e-commerce campaigns to attract clients’ attentions.
China Mobile Ltd, the nation’s biggest mobile carrier with 726 million subscribers, said that Friday was its first “Online Shopping Day” and offered favorable prices for people topping up accounts, purchasing mobile phones, or registering a telecom service plan.
The operator, which suffered weak profit growth in the first quarter, said it has also developed an optional package, consisting of diversified telecom services, for customers to build up tailored telecom contracts.
Xing Hongtao, an official from China Mobile’s market operation department, said that the new service was a bit like “going to a cafeteria, looking at the menu and choosing your favorite dishes”.
“Previously, the operators designed the service plans, but now it is up to customers to devise the contracts,” he said.
China Mobile is the first telecom operator in the nation to deliver this kind of service. The company started a pilot of the optional package in 13 provinces in the second half of last year, which more than 8 million customers have signed up to so far.
On Friday, China Mobile officially rolled out the service across the nation.
China Mobile’s sales from e-commerce channels have grown rapidly in recent years, according to the company.
By April, China Mobile had sold around 250,000 mobile phones per month on its website, an increase of 30 percent on the figure in January.
Ma Jingxin, deputy general manager of China Mobile Terminal Co, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that the company aims to sell up to 30 percent of its customized mobile phones through e-commerce channels by 2015.
China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd, the nation’s second-biggest telecom carrier, started building its e-commerce channels in 2007.
The average daily sales on China Unicom’s online platform now surpass 150 million yuan ($24.4 million) and its daily user base is more than 10 million, according to Zong Xinhua, general manger of China Unicom’s e-commerce department.
From May 17 to May 23, China Unicom plans to offer 10,000 smartphones at discounts to new telecom service subscribers.
The growing number of Internet users in China, combined with the public’s growing acceptance of e-commerce, is driving online sales of mobile phones.
“The most important reason for choosing a device online is because mobile phones are cheaper on the Web,” said Deng Kuibin, deputy general manager of SINO Market Research Co.
7. From operator branded to white-box superphones supporting all that
China Mobile launches own-brand smartphones [ChinaDaily via Xinhuanet, Aug 3, 2013]
China Mobile Ltd officially entered the booming mobile terminal market on Friday as it unveiled its own-brand smartphone models.
The China Mobile M701, a 5-inch screen Android-based smartphone equipped with MediaTek Inc’s 1.2-gigahertz quad-core processor, is priced at 1,299 yuan ($212). The China Mobile M601 is a 4-inch screen, dual-core Android smartphone that targets lower-end users with a price of 499 yuan.
The two smartphones are produced by original equipment manufacturers, Hisense Group and Shenzhen-based BYD Co Ltd, respectively. They will hit the Chinese market through China Mobile’s online and offline outlets this month.
Li Yue, chief executive officer of China Mobile, the world’s biggest telecom operator by subscribers, said the company has about 740 million customers.
Li said those customers usually change their mobile phones every 23 months, so at least 300 million new mobile devices are needed every year.
“China’s mobile terminal industry has a very bright future,” Li said, during a Beijing news briefing on Friday.
Analysts pointed out some additional implications for China Mobile’s smartphone launch.
James Yan, an analyst with research firm IDC China, said China Mobile’s move aims to create a platform that seamlessly integrates its current mobile services, such as the instant messaging tool Fetion, and other mobile applications.
“Chinese mobile carriers hope to decrease the risks of being a ‘dumb pipe’ and to relieve the pressure from Internet companies’ challenges,” Yan said.
Lingxi, the Chinese version of Apple Inc’s Siri service, will be installed on the new China Mobile smartphones. A year ago, China Mobile struck a $214 million deal to acquire a 15 percent stake in Anhui USTC iFlytek Co Ltd, a Chinese company that develops software and apps related to voice input services.
“Lingxi is a highlight of China Mobile smartphones,” said Li Lin, a marketing manager with iFlytek. Compared with Siri, Lingxi is more localized and has partnered with third-party service providers such as Dianping.com and douban.com to offer helpful daily living information for customers, Li said.
“You can ask Lingxi to make a phone call, send a text message or find a nearby restaurant,” Li explained.
The other benefit for China Mobile in its launch of own-brand smartphones is that it helps the carrier to expand and strengthen coverage in county-level markets.
“In tier five, tier six cities, which most mobile phone companies fail to reach, China Mobile can successfully sell smartphones through its powerful distribution channels,” Yan from IDC said. Those areas are usually remote from bustling cities and have less intense market competition, he said.
Kevin Wang, an analyst with the research firm IHS iSuppli, said China Mobile’s move will help reinforce its branding, but he said that he doubted the smartphone business will be a major revenue driver for the company.
“Foreign telecom operators such as AT&T and Vodafone have offered own-brand products for many years, but the own-brand smartphone proportion they sell is still small,” Wang said.
China white-box vendor introduces ultra-thin smartphone [DIGITIMES, July 3, 2013]
China-based white-box smartphone vendor UMeox Mobile has joined the world’s ultra-thin smartphone market by introducing its UMeox X5, which has a thickness of only 5.6mm.
The Umeox X5 is equipped with a 5.3-inch touchscreen and is powered by a dual-core processor set on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 3-megapixel front camera.
The UMeox X5 comes less than a month after fellow company Huawei unveiled on June 18 its ultra-thin model, the Ascend P6, which the vendor claimed to be the world’s slimmest smartphone at 6.18mm during a launch event. The Ascend P6 has a 4.7-inch 1280 by 720 in-cell display and is powered by a HiSilicon 1.5GHz quad-core K3V2E processor.
In China, the ultra-thin segment was previously dominated by branded players including Huawei, ZTE and Oppo; the entry of white-box vendors will eventually heat up the competition in the sector, said industry watchers.
April 13, 2013 Report:
Digitimes Research: Smartphone sales to reach 329 million in China in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, March 18, 2013]
There will be 329 million smartphones sold in the China market in 2013, hiking 67.0% from 2012 due to large growth in the total number of 3G subscribers, while sales of feature phones will drop 39.9% to 146 million units, according to Digitimes Research.
The 2013 sales of smartphones will consist of 110 million TD-SCDMA models [88M till end of 2012 in total !!!], increasing 155.8% from 2012, 77 million WCDMA models [76.5M till end of 2012 in total !!!], up 45.3%, 67 million CDMA models [80M till end of 2012 in total !!!], up 59.5% and 75 million EDGE models, up 27.1%.
The average production cost of entry-level smartphones will decrease from US$35 in the fourth quarter of 2012, to US$31 in the first quarter of 2013, according to Digitimes Research.
Here is the monthly change trend for the current situation according to operators’ company data:
So 2013 indeed will be quite a different year, especially for the biggest by far operator China Mobile (having the world’s largest customer base which is 64% of the market in terms of the overall number of 1.11 billion Chinese subscribers there), with new 3G subscribers to be added greatly exceeding even the total number of 3G subscribers accumulated so far over the last 4 years (since February 2009, precisely):
China Mobile aims to sell 100-120 million TD-SCDMA handsets in 2013 [DIGITIMES, March 15, 2013]
China Mobile, the only TD-SCDMA mobile telecom carrier in China, aims to sell 100-120 million TD-SCDMA handsets in 2013, 80% of which will be smartphones, according to company president Li Yue.
China Mobile saw the total number of TD-SCDMA subscribers increase by 36.72 million in 2012 to 87.93 million at the end of the year, China-based sina.tech.com indicated. There were 242 models of TD-SCDMA handsets, including 138 smartphones, launched in the China market in 2012 and the total sales volume stood at 56 million units, of which more than 60% were smartphones, sina.tech.com pointed out.
China Mobile spent CNY23.8 billion (US$3.77 billion) to subsidize purchases of TD-SCDMA handsets bundled with contracts in 2012, and has set aside a budget of CNY27.0 billion for 2013, the company indicated.
source: 2012 Annual Results presentation [China Mobile, March 14, 2013]
So a dramatic change will be not only for 3G but for 4G/LTE as well:
China Mobile 2013 capex increases 49% on year [DIGITIMES, March 14, 2013]
China Mobile, one of the biggest telecom carriers in China, reported 2012 total revenues of CNY560.4 billion (US$90 billion, up 6.1% on year. Net profits were CNY129.3 billion, representing an on-year increase of 2.7%, said the firm. China Mobile reported that 2013 capex will reach CNY190.2 billion, an on-year growth of 49.29% compared to CNY127.4 billion in 2012.
In particular, the capex for 4G networks will be CNY41.7 billion in 2013. The capex is for investments regarding 200,000 TD-LTE base stations. However, currently, TD-LTE service coverage is only 35-40%, and according to company CEO Li Yue, if the firm pushes TD-LTE service coverage to 90%, another CNY40 billion needs to be invested. China Mobile currently has no schedule for this type of investment.
China Mobile currently has 710 million users with 87.93 million being 3G users, a relatively low 3G service penetration rate. According to China Mobile chairman Xi Guo-hua, the firm’s sales of handsets in 2013 will reach around 100-120 million units and 80% will be smartphones.
In addition, China Mobile has been seeing strong growth in the usage of mobile networking among users. According to the firm, 2012 usage increased 187.6% on year and revenues from mobile networking services increased 53.6% on year, accounting for 12.2% of total revenues.
source: 2012 Annual Results presentation [China Mobile, March 14, 2013]
Note that GTI stands for the Global TD-LTE Initiative
On February 26th, Mr. Xi Guohua, Chairman of China Mobile announced China Mobile’s new 4G plan at the Mobile World Congress 2013 (MWC) in Barcelona that China Mobile will build the world’s largest 4G network covering over 100 cities in China and purchase more than 1 million 4G terminals by this year.
Since GTI announced the GTI Plan & Actions that was initiated to construct over 500,000 TD-LTE base stations in 2014 covering over 2 billion population, global commercialization of TD-LTE has seen a great leap forward. At present, TD-LTE has set up a complete end-to-end industry chain involving widespread participation of global industries and highly mature products. Significant progress has also made in terms of chips. In addition, the scale of TD-LTE commercial networks and user base has been enlarged to a large extent. The capability of LTE global roaming has also been proven.
Mr. Xi Guohua expressed in his opening address, “TD-LTE technology and industry have been mature enough for large-scale development. China Mobile will scale up the construction of trial network to create the largest LTE network in the world. Besides, China Mobile will purchase more than one million units of TD-LTE terminals, with a hope to promote TD-LTE multi-mode multi-band terminal to reach 3G standard as soon as possible and lay a good foundation for its complete commercialization.
It was reported that China Mobile, as a leader and main driving force for the global deployment of TD-LTE, has built pilot TD-LTE networks in 15 cities across China, among which the networks in Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou have achieved full coverage in main districts. China Mobile also launched diversified TD-LTE trial commercial services, receiving high praise from consumers. According to this latest released program, China Mobile’s TD-LTE network will cover all the prefecture-level cities and above with over 200,000 base stations covering more than 500 million population, which will be the largest 4G network in the world.
Dynamic development in the field of TD-LTE terminals has also been seen. At the summit, China Mobile and its industry partners, including Huaiwei, ZTE, Samsung, HTC and LG, jointly launched 5 models of TD-LTE multi-mode multi-band smart phones. Remarkably, China Mobile also released 3 eye-catching independently branded MiFi [wireless router that acts as a mobile WiFi hotspot, the abbreviation stands for “My Wi-Fi”] products. With the joint efforts by global chip vendors, the technologies for TD-LTE multi-mode multi-band smart phones are getting mature increasingly. It is estimated that booming development of TD-LTE terminals will be realized in a diversified, large-scale manner in the coming two years. Beside high-end mobile phones, middle and low end mobile phones will enter into the market. This will provide consumers with enriched choices while allowing seamless global roaming.
In pace with further promotion in the fields of commercial network deployment, multi-mode multi-band terminals, global roaming test and commercialization as well as the application of automotive consumer electronics, 2013 will be a key year for the global deployment and large-scale development of TD-LTE.
China Mobile to procure TD-LTE devices from Huawei, ZTE, Samsung [DIGITIMES, March 19, 2013]
China Mobile, the only TD-SCDMA mobile telecom carrier in China, will procure TD-LTE terminal devices from Huawei Technologies, ZTE, and Samsung Electronics, and will offer two own-brand Mi-Fi models, according to industry sources in Taiwan.
China Mobile will procure Huawei Mi-Fi model E5375, ZTE Mi-Fi model MF91S and offer own-brand CM510 and CM512. It will procure Huawei’s Ascend D2-TL smartphone, Samsung’s Galaxy I9308D smartphone and ZTE’s network interface card MF820T. These devices support TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA and GSM standards and 10 frequency bands.
CM512 will be produced by Tech-Full (Changshu) Computer, a China-based subsidiary of Quanta Computer.
China Mobile: 4G licensing expected by year-end [China Daily, March 13, 2013]
The chairman of China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier by subscriber base, says the rollout of4G technology in the country is just around corner. Speaking on the sidelines of the on-going two sessions, Xi Guohua, a CPPCC member, also said that the carrier is extending a trial of 4G networks
<embedded video worth to watch>
According to China Mobile, the fourth generation technology offers 10 times bigger bandwidthand 10 times transmission speed than its 3G predecessor. The operator plans to build more than 200,000 4G base stations. The network, when completed, will be the largest of its kind worldwide, and will cover a population of more than 500 million.
Xi Guohua, chairman of China Mobile, said, “We will further expand the current trial on a large scale network. We plan to build 4G base stations in 100 cities, and purchase 1 million terminals.”
Xi also expects the government to issue its fourth generation license before the end of thisyear.
Xi said, “The timing of licensing should be in line with technological development. I think it is appropriate to do that by the end of this year.”
China Mobile started its large-scale 4G trial last year. Industry insiders say if commercialized, the new technology will give a major boost to every part of China’s telecommunications industry.
Commercializing 4G in China needs 1 yr: minister [China Daily, March 15, 2013]
With the third-generation communication network flourishing in China, consumers are eager to know when they will be able to start using the next generation’s network, 4G. On the sidelines of the NPC sessions, the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei,said that the large-scale commercialization of 4G is currently in a testing phase, but that the network coverage still has a long way to go.
<embedded video worth to watch>
Miao Wei, Minister of China Ministry of Industry & IT, said, “Some factors are blocking the 4G development. First is the network. At the moment, even the 3G network is not fully received in many places across China, as it always drops to 2G due to poor network coverage. We have to speed up the installation of coverage technology so as to realize the smooth switching between 3G and 4G. Licenses will still be given to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. 4G will first be commercialized in six pilot cities as the network coverage will be available there. But it needs at least one year to commercialize it across the country.”
China Smartphone Sector [Asia Pacific/China Equity Research, Credit Suisse, Jan 7, 2013]
A specific growth opportunity within China
The Chinese market is a critical market for the local branded Chinese smartphone brands, whitebox and chipset suppliers into that channel. Overall market growth is poised to continue, driven by a significant step-up in subsidies of sub-Rmb1,000 smartphones from Chinese brands and much better low-cost handset availability and quality.
The market is also a key market not dominated by the traditional Tier 1 brands, with feature phones traditionally 60% served by whitebox and local brands. The initial ramp of smartphones was dominated by the traditional global Tier 1s at 70% share in 2011. In 2012, however, this market made a marked turn and is now only 36% supplied by Tier 1s, 35% by the Top 4 Chinese brands (Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and Coolpad), and 29% by the whitebox and Tier 2 Chinese brands. The key shift was substantial lowering of entry barriers due to higher quality chipset reference designs, better availability of components (panels, touch, image sensors, low cost mobile DRAM) and a stable Android platform.
The availability of these smartphones has already prompted a substantial rise in smartphone penetration of device purchases, from 17% of units in 2011 (78 mn smartphones out of 458 mn handset sales) to 38% of units in 2012 (197 mn of 512 mn handset sales). By 2015, we model in our global forecast 421 mn of 570 mn handset sales (74% of device units). The export channel has taken off a bit slower, with penetration in emerging markets increasing YoY from 16% to 23% in 2012 and projected to reach 54% in 2015 (619 mn of 1.13 bn devices), a potential area of further upside.
Based on rising affordability and quality continuing to improve, we expect the Chinese smartphone market to grow from 197mn units in 2012 to 421mn in 2015, with 30% from tier one’s, 33% from the top Chinese brands and 37% from other brands.
We note that the whitebox and other brands can expand as Tier 2 brands (Hisense, BBK, Oppo, Gionee, Tianyu/K-Touch, TCL, Xiaomi) become household names in China and emerging markets and the quality of clone Galaxy and iPhones improve with better touch, quad core and sweeter flavours of Android versions.
Handset Industry 2013 Outlook [Asia Pacific/China Equity Research, Credit Suisse, Jan 7, 2013]
Increased push towards lower end smartphones. One of the common themes emerging out of all three carriers in China is the increased push toward bringing down smartphone price points. During 2011, the focus had been on launching smartphones priced at around Rmb1,000 with a number of product introductions in that price range. For 2012, the target seems to be to further price point reductions.
China Mobile noted that out of 166 smartphone models it offered during mid-2012, 126 of them are being sold at a price point of around Rmb1,000 (or US$150), with the company already working towards launching smartphones priced at Rmb500.
China Unicom highlighted that after having successfully launched a series of Rmb1,000 smartphones in 2011, it has been working on to introduce smartphones priced at Rmb700 (US$ 100) or below during 2012.
China Telecom had an offering of around 240 models for smartphones in mid-2012, compared to only 100/200 models at the end of 2010/2011. Further, the carrier sold 16mn smartphone devices in 1H12 compared to 17mn in 2011 (up 2x yoy).
And the Chinese industry and supply chain positions are even better in the tablet ecosystem space as well described in my spinoff blog:
SED Electronics Market (Tablets Market) in Shenzhen walk-through [Charbax YouTube channel, March 17, 2013]
Allwinner A31 9.7″ Retina factory tour at Celeb Tech [Charbax YouTube channel, March 17, 2013]
This getting even more interesting as the quite dramatic by itself introductory information is only one of the reasons (more will follow below) why we can say that China is the epicenter of the mobile Internet world, so of the next-gen HTML5 web … even if such a power of influence is too new for the country to be able to exercise that to a greater degree (yet): China Knocks Off U.S. to Become World’s Top Smart Device Market [Peter Farago on the Flurry blog, Feb 18, 2013]
Nevertheless the collection given below in the ‘Background’ section is showing that potential. Just look at the major headlines in that section:
|China becomes world’s top smartphone producer||China’s e-commerce revenue hits over 1 trillion yuan in 2012: minister||China’s top microblog site boasts 500 mln users|
|China expected to issue 4G licenses this year: minister||Preparing for a 4G network across China||ZTE leads in 4G wireless networks|
|EU telecom demands raise tensions with China||China has till June for solar, telecoms trade deal: EU||China’s mobile phone users reach 1.11 bln|
|China market: Samsung takes up 22.5% of 2012 smartphone sales, says iiMedia Research||Smart phones cover 70 pct of mobile market: report||Android powers a third of all mobile phones shipped in 4Q12, says Canalys|
|Google controls too much of China’s smartphone sector: ministry||Too late for China to develop own mobile operating systems, say Taiwan makers||China handset makers hope to reduce reliance on Android|
|China to modify plan to open up mobile telecom sector||4M[bps] broadband to cover 70 percent of Chinese users in 2013||Broadband network expansion in the pipeline|
|China Unicom’s 3G
[W-CDMA] subscribers hit 76.46 mln
For the mobile Internet world, and consequently for the next-gen HTML5 web there is still a huge untapped potential in China, especially for the far the biggest network operator, China Mobile:
China Mobile’s untapped potential in the 3G space is even greater than that of other two operators as from Q4’11 to Q2’12 it was operating at much lower quarterly growth rate of 3G penetration than its bigest domestic rival, China Unicom (see the chart in the middle). In fact during the last 2 years both China Unicom (W-CDMA) and China Telecom (CDMA) had a consistently faster growth of 3G subscribers than China Mobile (TD-SCDMA) as well illustrated by the first chart on the top. In fact the resulting 3G penetration rates by the end of the period (Q4’12) speak for themselves:
– China Mobile (TD-SCDMA): 12.4% (vs. 3.5% in Q4’10)
– China Unicom (W-CDMA): 32% (vs. 8.4% in Q4’10)
– China Telecom (CDMA): 43% (vs. 13.6% in Q4’10)
The major reason for China Mobile’s significant underperformance between 2010 and 2012 is related to all the difficulties related to the stubborn attempt to deliver a completely homegrown solution in the 3G space, 100% of China’s own, end-to-end: TD-SCDMA, SoCs, operating system, services etc.
TD-SCDMA defined and developed totally independent of the Qualcomm driven CDMA and the Europe driven W-CDMA (including HSPA) which both had broad involvement of all kind of interested parties, especially the final 3G+ winner W-CDMA (including HSPA). This is well expressed by the following technology adoption chart (which includes forecast for the recently launched 4G LTE as well):
From: Report: LTE Connections To Hit 90 Million By Year’s End, 1 Billion By 2017 [TechCrunch, May 17, 2012], i.e. LTE was in its 3d year in 2012
China Mobile, as a SOE (State Owned Company, see SOEs and state coexistence in China [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 19, 2011]) with only 25.82% of shares not in the state hands as of 31 December 2011, got full support of the state via different financial means and other TD-SCDMA related companies of the state as well. See China Mobile repositioning for TD-LTE with full content and application aggregation services, 3G [HSPA level] is to create momentum for that [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 18, 2011]. China Mobile awards 12 companies TD-SCDMA research grants [May 17, 2009] and China Mobile Reveals TD-SCDMA Handset Subsidy Bidding Results [May 17, 2009] there are particulary revealing such efforts in the very beginning.
There was no lack of resources for everything, despite of doing it all alone, nevertheless it took no less than 3 years from the TD-SCDMA launch to have a workable plan which resulted just in the end of the fourth year in the significantly improved results of greater quarterly TD-SCDMA penetration growth of 14.4% in Q4’12 Q vs. 13.2% in Q1’12, 10% in Q2’12 and 10.2% in Q3’12. The plan was TD-SCDMA: US$3B into the network (by the end of 2012) and 6 million phones procured (just in October) [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Oct 18, 2011] and the Q4’12 result is quite visible in the penetration growth rate jump (copied here as well for convenience):
It was clearly identified from the very beginning that SoCs would be needed from several sources. China Mobile was getting that quite early from local chip design houses Spreadtrum and Leadcore as well as from ST-Ericsson, MediaTek and Marvell coming from outside (see Marvell beaten by Chinese chipmakers in sub 1,000 yuan handset procurement tender of China Mobile [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 15, 2010] and Marvell’s single chip TD-SCDMA solutions beaten (again) by two-chip solutions of Chinese vendors [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 11, 2011]). Despite of Marvell’s very strong and early 2008 commitment to capitalise on the TD-SCDMA opportunity only, even strengthening that with Kinoma is now the marvellous software owned by Marvell [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, March 8, 2011] and ASUS, China Mobile and Marvell join hands in the OPhone ecosystem effort for “Blue Ocean” dominance [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, March 8, 2011], it was much more later that there were First real chances for Marvell on the tablet and smartphone fronts [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Aug 21, 2011].
Then, in fact, rather its long-time local competitor gained the upper hand with World’s lowest cost, US$40-50 Android smartphones — sub-$100 retail — are enabled by Spreadtrum [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 11, 2011] which was already at the time of China becoming the lead market for mobile Internet in 2012/13 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 1, 2011] and The new, high-volume market in China is ready to define the 2012 smartphone war [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Jan 6, 2012]. In the end not Marvell but Spreadtrum exploited best the tremendous volume opportunities when it was possible to state that Lowest H2’12 device cost SoCs from Spreadtrum will redefine the entry level smartphone and feature phone markets [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 26 – Nov 9, 2012] as the 2.5G only $48 Mogu M0 “peoplephone”, i.e. an Android smartphone for everybody to hit the Chinese market on November 15 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 9, 2012] arrived. And the increase in the number of TD-SCDMA subscribers was still not that much more: 12.3 million in Q4’12 vs. 8.5 million in Q3’12.
So Spreadtrum’s H2’12 success came much more from its extremely low-cost with 2.5G+WiFi (SC6820) capability than from the one which included as well the TD-SCDMA capability. This also means that for our final word about the maturity of the TD-SCDMA technology stack from the network basestations through the TD-SCDMA SoCs we will able to say just in 2013, after similar kind, or even higher, increases in the number of TD-SCDMA subscriber additions would indeed be reported by China Mobile. The findings of the market research panels published just last week are well supporting this reasoning (see the full press release much more below of the excerpts included here):
Wi-Fi is the Data Beast of Burden among Smartphone Panelists [Arbitron press release via PRNewswire, March 4, 2013]
… Even as carriers aggressively promote their newest generation of cellular data networking, the Arbitron smartphone panelists in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and China, still consume nearly two thirds of their mobile data through public and private Wi-Fi networks. …
… China and France have the lightest users of mobile data … However, their respective share of Wi-Fi networks as a data source stands at a polar opposite. China panelists consume the largest share—70 percent—on Wi-Fi networks. French panelists, consume the smallest share—53 percent—of mobile data on Wi-Fi. …
This means that the Chinese were well satisfied with their less costly 2.5G mobile connections for less data consuming tasks, while for most consuming ones the great majority of them were relying on the Wi-Fi networks available to them in the various hotspots and at home (probably at the workplace as well). Considering that along with the 4G/LTE there is the upcoming 5G WiFi with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac Miracast™ from Broadcom for streaming content to UHD (4K) TVs as well [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, March 3, 2013] this situation will not change in the future either, definitely not in the much more cost-concious Chinese market (see: China: going either for good quality commodities or the premium brands only [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 21, 2012]).
Wi-Fi is the Data Beast of Burden among Smartphone Panelists [Arbitron press release via PRNewswire, March 4, 2013]
How much mobile data Arbitron smartphone panelists consume varies by country and mobile platform
Wi-Fi® remains the leading data network for on-the-go data consumption in the five leading Arbitron Mobile-based smartphone panels.
Even as carriers aggressively promote their newest generation of cellular data networking, the Arbitron smartphone panelists in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and China, still consume nearly two thirds of their mobile data through public and private Wi-Fi networks.
Wi-Fi Data Consumption by Arbitron Mobile-based Smartphone Panelists
Sorted by average mobile data consumption per month (cellular +Wi-Fi)
Cell + Wi-Fi Data
% of panelists
> 1,000 MB/month
Source: Arbitron Mobile Index: Executive Summary Reports, 4th quarter 2012
* Operated by iResearch using Arbitron Mobile technology
The United States and United Kingdom have the heaviest users of mobile data in their Arbitron smartphone panels. A substantial share of the data consumption—61 and 69 percent respectively—relies on Wi-Fi networks.
China and France have the lightest users of mobile data in their Arbitron Mobile-based smartphone panels, both in terms of the average monthly data consumed and the share of the panel who consume more the 1,000 MB a month. However, their respective share of Wi-Fi networks as a data source stands at a polar opposite.
China panelists consume the largest share—70 percent—on Wi-Fi networks. French panelists, consume the smallest share—53 percent—of mobile data on Wi-Fi.
In all five of the Arbitron Mobile panels, Apple iOS users are heaviest consumers of mobile data and are the heaviest users of Wi-Fi for their on-the-go data needs.
Data Consumption by Leading Mobile Operating Systems
Sorted by average mobile data consumption per month (cellular +Wi-Fi) on iOS
Source: Arbitron Mobile Index — Executive Summary Reports, 4th quarter 2012
* Operated by iResearch using Arbitron Mobile technology
Apple iOS was the predominant operating system among the heavy data users in these five smartphone panels. Seventy-two percent of iOS users in the U.S. and German panel were in 1,000+ MB/month club; in the U.K., 76 percent, and in China 60 percent. In stark contrast, only 29 percent of the iOS users in the France panel consumed more than 1,000 MB/month in the fourth quarter 2012.
About iResearch Consulting
iResearch Consulting, founded 2002, is the leading consulting and media measurement company in the Internet industry in China. With more than 200 employees, iResearch, headquartered in Shanghai, has been at the forefront of Chinese Internet measurement and operates a currency Internet audience rating service for China.
About Arbitron Mobile
Arbitron Mobile Oy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arbitron Inc., uses a proprietary, on-device software meter to provide marketers, the media, content providers, app developers, and wireless access suppliers with information on how mobile consumers use apps, surf the web, engage in social media, participate in e-commerce, and employ their devices to communicate.
For more information, visit www.arbitronmobile.com or contact email@example.com.
Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) is an international media and marketing research firm serving the media—radio, television, cable and out-of-home; the mobile industry as well as advertising agencies and advertisers around the world. For more information, visit www.arbitron.com.
Wi-Fi® is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
China becomes world’s top smartphone producer [Xinhua, Jan 16, 2013]
Chinese shipments of smartphones totaled 224 million units in 2012, making the country the world’s largest smartphone producer, official data showed Wednesday.
In 2012, over 730,000 Chinese apps were launched on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad platforms, and the number of apps in China Mobile’s online Mobile Market approached 150,000, according to a statement from the China Academy of Telecommunication Research under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Beijing-based research firm Analysys International predicted that China’s mobile Internet market will reach 429.6 billion yuan (68.19 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015.
China added 50.9 million Internet users in 2012, bringing the total to 564 million at the end of last year, according to data released Tuesday by the China Internet Network Information Center.
The number of mobile Internet users increased 18.1 percent to 420 million, with mobile phones becoming the primary channel for using the Internet in China.
– Huawei challenges Apple, Samsung with world’s biggest smartphone [Xinhua, Jan 7, 2013]
– Lenovo seeks top smartphone spot [in China] [China Daily via Xinhuanet, Jan 5, 2013]
– China’s ZTE unveils latest Android smartphone in Indonesia [Xinhua, Dec 19, 2012]
– Smartphones give family ties the busy signal [Xinhua, Oct 18, 2012]
– Smartphones in use top 1 bln worldwide: report [Xinhua, Oct 17, 2012]
The number of smartphones in use in the world has risen to over 1 billion, 16 years after they were first put into market, report from Strategy Analytics showed on Wednesday.
According to the third quarter figures released by the research firm, the number of smartphones in use increased by around 330 million from the third quarter of 2011 and by 79 million from the second quarter of this year.
Executive Director at Strategics Analytics Neil Mawston said one in seven people in the world now has a smartphone.
Mawston pointed out that there will be more smartphone penetration in the future because of the “huge scope for future growth, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India and Africa.”
It is calculated that although 16 years were needed for the first billion smartphones to come into use, it will need just three years for that number to double to 2 billion.
China’s e-commerce revenue hits over 1 trillion yuan in 2012: minister [Xinhua, March 8, 2013]
China’s booming online commerce industry is expected to reap more than 1.1 trillion yuan (about 175 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2012, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on Friday.
“The total revenue of online commerce is estimated to be around 1.1 trillion yuan (about 175 billion U.S. dollars) to 1.2 trillion in 2012,” said Chen, noting that the exact figure was not available.
China’s online commerce has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with its total revenue expanding from 25.8 billion yuan in 2006 to 780 billion in 2011, the commerce minister told a press conference held on the sidelines of the ongoing national legislature.
“Online shopping is changing people’s way of life and consumption, taking advantage of the huge potential of China’s industrialization and urbanization,” Chen said.
The commerce minister said the growth dwarfed that of many western countries, attributing to the fact that China’s commerce industry was not as developed in the first place, and online shopping could serve to reduce the cost of logistics by a huge margin.
– Chinese booming e-commerce nibbles traditional retailers [Xinhuanet, Feb 18, 2013] with internal headlines: online business booms + traditional retail industry threatened
– Conference updated on China’s regulation of e-commerce [Xinhua, Nov 27, 2012]
– Securing China’s e-commerce growth [Jeff Liao, country manager of Visa China on Xinhuanet, Nov 20, 2012]
Between June 2011 and 2012, China’s Internet population reached 538 million, of which some 194 million had shopped online. Online retail sales in China have soared in recent years and are expected to hit 360 billion U.S. dollars by 2015 – up from about 121 billion dollars in 2011 – according to The Boston Consulting Group.
Impressive as the numbers are, there’s another set of statistics that’s even more striking: Nearly one-third of the online shoppers in China fell prey to fraudulent websites during that period, costing them 4.7 billion dollars, according to the China Electronic Commerce Association.
<quite worth to read after that>
China’s top microblog site boasts 500 mln users [Xinhua, Feb 20, 2013]
Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, had attracted over 500 million users by the end of 2012, a year-on-year increase of 74 percent, Sina Corp. announced on Wednesday.
Sina Weibo’s active daily users have exceeded 46.2 million, the company said.
The site’s revenues totaled 66 million U.S. dollars in 2012, of which 23 percent came from surging income from value-added services.
The other 77 percent came from advertising, the revenues of which exceeded 50 million U.S. dollars.
The company plans to further improve its user experience and expand its services while veering its focus to mobile Internet, said Cao Guowei, CEO and president of Sina.
Some 75 percent of Sina Weibo’s active users log in using mobile devices.
Sina also issued financial reports for the last quarter and full fiscal year of 2012 on Wednesday, showing that its net revenues hit 529.3 million U.S. dollars with a year-on-year increase of 10 percent.
Web China: Xi Jinping fan microblog triggers curiosity [Xinhua, Feb 6, 2013]
… a personal microblog on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which has released exclusive photos and other news regarding China’s top leader Xi Jinping, has raised eyebrows with its candid coverage.
Netizens have become increasingly curious about the blog, titled “Xuexifensituan” (“Learning From Xi Fan Club”), which covers the latest moves made by Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, during his inspection tours.
Entries on the blog are often written in the style of a tabloid, with brief phrases (“he’s returned to the hotel”) describing Xi’s whereabouts. However, the posts are exclusive and always come ahead of reports from official media.
Sometimes there are rare first-hand pictures — distant shots of Xi dozing in a van or photos taken by a shaky camera while Xi walks through a crowd of people.
The microblogger refers to Xi as “Xi Dada,” a term that translates as “Uncle Xi” in some parts of China. “Pingping,” a dual-syllable nickname often used by intimate friends or relatives, is also used to describe China’s top leader.
The blog has attracted nearly 500,000 followers since going online in November 2012. Although the information contained in the blog has interested the public, netizens are also curious about the real identity of the blog’s owner.
The blog does not feature a “V” emblem, a mark which indicates that the blog owner’s identity has been verified by Sina Weibo. The only clues are profile details stating that the blog’s owner is a female from northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
The mysterious blog is suspected to be maintained by someone very close to Xi, as the information it contains is supposed to be unavailable to the public and some of its photos were shot from vantages close to Xi.
The blog’s owner has denied claims that he or she is close to Xi. “I am just an ordinary office worker, not a CPC member, nor an official,” an entry on the blog said.
China expected to issue 4G licenses this year: minister [Xinhua, March 6, 2013]
China is expected to start licensing telecom operators to offer services on its fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone network within 2013, a senior official has said.
“China has made breakthroughs in R&D of 4G technologies, but is still facing restrictions in commercial use,” Miao Wei, minister of industry of information technology, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the country’s national legislature.
China needs to speed up base station construction and provide more terminal products, which require greater financial and technological input, he said on Tuesday.
“We will promulgate supporting policies at an appropriate time to guide the construction and development of the 4G network,” Miao added.
In early February, two cities in east China’s Zhejiang Province launched a 4G mobile phone network for commercial use on a trial basis, marking a new age of high-speed mobile Internet in the country.
With a 500-yuan (80 U.S. dollars) deposit, subscribers to China Mobile in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, and Wenzhou, can access the service.
China Mobile, China’s largest mobile operator, employs TD-LTE technology, or Time Division Long Term Evolution, one of two international standards, for the 4G network. Its maximum Internet speed is up to 10 times faster than 3G.
4G user should be able to download a 10-megabyte piece of software in two seconds, and a two-gigabyte HD movie in just several minutes.
With the advancement of 4G technology, 4G wireless cards and 4G mobile phones are expected to be ready for commercial use this year.
China Mobile began building a trial 4G network in several Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, in 2011. The city is currently home to over 2,400 4G base stations, covering an area of around 500 square km.
The minister also reiterated that China will further encourage private investment in the telecom industry.
– China Mobile expands 4G trials to Zhejiang [China Daily via Xinhuanet, Feb 6, 2013]
– East China cities launch commercial 4G network [Xinhua, Feb 4, 2013]
– Preparing for a 4G network across China [China Daily via Xinhuanet, Nov 19, 2012]
… The ministry officially defined the TD-LTE spectrum – 2,500-2,690 MHz – in China in October, paving the way for future TD-LTE network commercial use.
Xi Guohua, chairman of China Mobile, said in June that China Mobile plans to have a total of more than 200,000 TD-LTE base stations through new builds and upgrades by 2013.
Rumors have circulated in Chinese media that China Telecom, the nation’s smallest mobile carrier, will probably adopt TD-LTE technology when it starts to deploy its 4G network. If true, it would be a great boost for the TD-LTE industry both at home and abroad.
– ZTE leads in 4G wireless networks [China Daily via Xinhuanet, July 22, 2012]
ZTE Corp revealed on Friday that it has gained an upper hand over rivals in the construction of fourth generation TD-LTE wireless networks globally, after it grabbed more than 70 percent of the world’s contracts of this kind by May.
“We had absolute advantages … since the number of ZTE’s TD-LTE projects accounted for more than 70 percent of the world’s total,” said [ZTE Vice-President] Liu [Peng].
“We had absolute advantages … since the number of ZTE’s TD-LTE projects accounted for more than 70 percent of the world’s total,” said Liu.
ZTE announced on Thursday that it had been selected as one of two telecom equipment suppliers by China Mobile Hong Kong Ltd, a subsidiary of the world’s largest mobile operator China Mobile Ltd, to build a seamless converged LTE TDD and LTE FDD network in Hong Kong. The other selected supplier was Sweden-based Telefon AB LM Ericsson.
It is also the first commercial TD-LTE network set up and operated by China Mobile, and because of that, it will play a critical role in China Mobile’s overall plan to promote TD-LTE technology both at home and abroad, analysts said.
Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer of the China Academy of Telecommunication Research, said: “It is a real, tangible commercial TD-LTE network, and China Mobile will learn operating experience from it and may do a better job in the commercial use of TD-LTE technology in the Chinese mainland.”
EU telecom demands raise tensions with China [CNTV.cn via Xinhuanet, Feb 3, 2013]
According to a report in the Financial Times, Europe’s top trade official has urged China to grant it a bigger share of the Chinese market in telecoms network equipment.
The EU trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, is reported to have requested a 30 percent share of China’s telecoms market to EU suppliers in return for dropping a highly contentious EU investigation into alleged subsidies to Chinese companies.
It’s also claimed De Gucht is insisting that Chinese telecom suppliers Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp raise the price of their exports by 29%. The case centres on Brussels’ contention that Beijing has awarded illegal export subsidies to the two companies in order to fuel their growth in foreign markets.
A delegation from China’s Ministry of Commerce met with top EU trade officials on Friday to seek a way to settle the issue without sparking a trade war.
The EU is currently carrying out its biggest ever anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar panel exports. It’s expected to make a formal decision on whether to impose temporary duties by the end of May.
China has till June for solar, telecoms trade deal: EU [Reuters, Feb 27, 2013]
China has until June 7 to negotiate a deal with the European Union on state subsidies for solar panels and mobile telephone networks or face possible punitive measures, the EU’s trade chief said on Wednesday.
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told a Reuters Summit on the future of the euro zone the Chinese had told Brussels they wanted to negotiate an amicable solution to EU concerns over alleged trade distortions in the two cases.
“It is the Chinese who have requested that we would have negotiations on a possible amicable solution. We have already have contacts, we have already sent people to Beijing, and the Chinese already came to Brussels,” he said.
The hi-tech telecoms case is less advanced but potentially far bigger in political and economic impact.
The EU is collecting evidence to prepare a possible case against Chinese network equipment makers Huawei (002502.SZ) and ZTE (000063.SZ) over state subsidies, but has not received a formal complaint from European industry.
De Gucht said the Commission had the power to initiate proceedings on its own authority even if no European competitor came forward.
A complaint is the normal starting point for an investigation, but European manufacturers Ericsson (ERICb.ST), Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) and Nokia Siemens Networks NOKI.UL have remained silent because trade experts say they fear retaliation against their business in China.
The case over mobile network equipment makers would dwarf that in size. The European telecoms industry accounts for an estimated 4.8 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product.
Such self-initiated cases can be awkward for the Commission, as it appears to be both complainant and judge and still needs evidence from EU producers and approval from EU member states, which ultimately vote on Brussels’ proposals to impose duties.
De Gucht said that talks over alleged state subsidies by China to the telecom firms were running in parallel with negotiations to avoid duties on Chinese solar panels.
There were also “serious security concerns” involving mobile telecom networks, which had become the backbone of modern European society, he said, noting that the United States and Australiahad effectively shut Huawei out of their markets.
Diplomats said EU countries are divided in their approach to Huawei, with Britain and the Netherlands embracing the Chinese firm as a major job provider while others are more wary of Chinese inroads into such a sensitive sector.
A leaked internal EU report last year said that action against Chinese telecom equipment makers was needed because their increasing dominance of mobile networks makes them a threat to security.
China’s mobile phone users reach 1.11 bln [Xinhua, Jan 25, 2013]
The number of Chinese mobile phone users reached 1.11 billion as of the end of 2012, according to official data unveiled Thursday.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in a statement that mobile phone users represent 80 percent of all phones users in the country.
The number of mobile phones owned by every 100 people reached 82.6 by the end of 2012, up by nine from a year earlier, according to the statement.
Last year, the country recorded 125.9 million new mobile phone users, among whom 104.38 million were 3G mobile phone users, bringing the total number of 3G users to 232.8 million, the MIIT said.
The ministry said the number of Internet users rose by 51 million to 564 million people, among whom 74.5 percent, or 420 million people, surf the Internet with their mobile phones.
The Internet penetration rate reached 42.1 percent by the end of last year, up 3.8 percentage points from a year earlier.
China market: Samsung takes up 22.5% of 2012 smartphone sales, says iiMedia Research [DIGITIMES, March 7, 2013]
There were 169 million smartphones sold in the China market in 2012, hiking 130.7% from 2011, and Samsung Electronics was the largest vendor with a market share of 22.5%, according to China-based consulting company iiMedia Research.
Lenovo was the second largest vendor accounting for 10.7% of the smartphone sales volume, followed Huawei Device, Coolpad and ZTE with 9.9%, 9.5%, 8.9% respectively, Apple with 7.7%, GiONEE with 6.4%, HTC with 4.7%, Motorola Mobility with 3.5% and Nokia with 3.1%.
In terms of operating system, Android occupied 68.6% of the smartphone sales volume, followed by iOS with 12.8%, Symbian with 12.4% and Windows Phone with 3.8%.
There were 380 million smartphone users in the China market at the end of 2012, increasing 72.7% from a year ago.
iiMedia: Percentage breakdown of smartphones
sold in China by price, 2012
Price range (CNY)
Below 1,000 (US$158)
1,000 to below 2,000
2,000 to below 3,000
3,000 to below 4,000
4,000 and above
Smart phones cover 70 pct of mobile market: report [Xinhua, March 6, 2013]
Seventy-million smart phones were shipped in China in the last quarter of 2012, covering 73.2 percent of the country’s mobile market share, newly released statistics showed Wednesday.
The volume of smart phone shipments saw a 112.1 percent year-on-year increase, according to statistics by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a global market research, analysis and advisory company.
Figures showed that shipments of mobile phones in the last three months of 2012 stood at 96 million, a 1.6 percent year-on-year rise.
Total shipments of mobile phones in China last year reached 362 million, among which smart phones recorded 213 million, a year-on-year increase of 135 percent, said IDC.
The corporation said that strong demand, subsidies from phone operators and new smart phone arrivals were the driving force behind the boom.
“Producers’ heavy investments in smart phones also contributed to the success,” said Wang Jiping, an analyst with IDC’s China subsidiary.
The company forecasts that the country’s smart phone industry will witness steady growth in the next few years.
It said smart phone shipments are expected to reach 460 million in 2017, which will take up 90.1 percent of the country’s total mobile phone sales.
– China smartphone shipments to rise to 460 million by 2017-IDC [Reuters, March 7, 2013]
– Smartphones Expected to Outship Feature Phones for First Time in 2013, According to IDC [IDC press release, March 4, 2013]
… Smartphone shipments to China, Brazil, and India will comprise a growing percentage of the device type’s volume in each forecast year. Smartphone demand is burgeoning in these large, populous nations as their respective economies have grown; this has made for a larger middle class that is prepared to buy smartphones. China, which supplanted the U.S. last year as the global leader in smartphone shipments, is at the forefront of this shift.
“While we don’t expect China’s smartphone growth to maintain the pace of a runaway train as it has over the last two years, there continue to be big drivers to keep the market growing as it leads the way to ever-lower smartphone prices and the country’s transition to 4G networks is only just beginning,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager, IDC Asia/Pacific. “Even as China starts to mature, there remains enormous untapped potential in other emerging markets like India, where we expect less than half of all phones shipped there to be smartphones by 2017, and yet it will weigh in as the world’s third largest market.”
Brazil is another market where smartphone growth will remain high over the course of the forecast as its economic fortunes improve. “Brazilians have yet to turn in their feature phones for smartphones on a wholesale basis,” said Bruno Freitas, Consumer Devices Research Manager, IDC Brazil. “The smartphone tide is turning in Brazil though, as wireless service providers and the government have laid the groundwork for a strong smartphone foundation that mobile phone manufacturers can build upon.” …
Android powers a third of all mobile phones shipped in 4Q12, says Canalys [DIGITIMES, Feb 8, 2013]
Canalys: Worldwide smartphone shipments and share by vendor, 4Q12 (m units)
Source: Canalys, compiled by Digitimes, February 2013
Canalys: Worldwide smartphone shipments and share by OS vendor, 4Q12 (m units)
Source: Canalys, compiled by Digitimes, February 2013
– Mobile device market to reach 2.6 billion units by 2016, says Canalys [DIGITIMES, Feb 26, 2013]
– Entry-level smartphone sales expected to stay strong in China throughout 2013 [DIGITIMES, Jan 2, 2013]
Google controls too much of China’s smartphone sector: ministry [March 5, 2013]
Google Inc has too much control over China’s smartphone industry via its Android mobile operating system and has discriminated against some local firms, the technology ministry said in a white paper.
The white paper, authored by the research arm of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, also said China had the ability to create its own mobile operating system. (here)
“Our country’s mobile operating system research and development is too dependent on Android,” the paper, posted online on Friday but carried by local media on Tuesday, said.
“While the Android system is open source, the core technology and technology roadmap is strictly controlled by Google.”
The paper said Google had discriminated against some Chinese companies developing their operating systems by delaying the sharing of codes. Google had also used commercial agreements to restrain the business development of mobile devices of these companies, it added.
A Google spokesman in China declined to comment.
The ministry did not recommend any specific policies, regulatory actions or other measures.
Analysts said the white paper, which lauded Chinese companies such as Baidu Inc, Alibaba Group and Huawei Technologies for creating their own systems, could be a signal to the industry that regulations against Android are on the horizon.
“In China, regulators regulate regularly especially where they can position the regulations as helping out domestic companies,” Duncan Clark, chairman of technology consultancy BDA, said in an email to Reuters.
“Ironically, Android’s success has underpinned a lot of the growth in China smartphone vendors in recent years,” Clark said. Home-grown companies had failed previously in China’s market for simple handsets, he said, due to weakness in software and operating systems.
South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s largest smartphone maker, uses the Android system, as do Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE Corp.
Last September, the launch of a smartphone between Acer Inc and a unit of Alibaba Group was cancelled due to what Alibaba said was pressure from Google on the Taiwanese group. Representatives for Acer and Google declined to comment on the matter at that time.
Technology research firm IDC has estimated that China surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest smartphone market in 2012, accounting for 26.5 percent of all smartphones shipped.
In 2010, Google conducted a partial pullout from China on the basis of censorship and after it suffered a serious hacking episode that the company said emanated from China. Since then, Google’s search market share in China has fallen from almost 30 percent to 15 percent at the end of 2012. Android has been Google’s bright spot in China.
In the third quarter last year, Android accounted for 90 percent of all mobile operating systems in China while Apple Inc’s iOS system was at just 4.2 percent.
Too late for China to develop own mobile operating systems, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES, March 7, 2013]
While China Academy of Telecommunication Research under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in its white paper calls for China’s development of own operating systems for use in smartphones, tablets and other mobile terminal devices to lessen existing heavy reliance on Google Android, sources with Taiwan-based handset supply chain makers pointed out that it is too late for such development because of difficulties to develop related technologies and establishing necessary ecosystem as well as lack of relevant patents.
It will take at least three to five years for a new mobile operating system to become competitive in market, and if China-based companies – such as device vendor Lenovo, Huawei Device, ZTE and Coolpad, and Internet service providers Alibaba and Baidu – only begin to develop own mobile operating systems now, it is already too late to catch up with competitors, the sources indicated.
Instead of developing own mobile operating systems, China-based companies can ask Google to loosen its regulations on using Android, for example, to allow development of various operating system versions based on the Android architecture, the sources said. In addition, the China government can encourage China-based companies to provide rich mobile services and develop various mobile applications based on not only Android but also iOS, Windows Phone and other operating systems, the sources indicated.
China handset makers hope to reduce reliance on Android [DIGITIMES, March 6, 2013]
The China Academy of Telecommunication Research for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has published a white paper stating that China’s handset industry has been relying heavily on the Android platform. In fact, China’s handset industry has been hoping to reduce its reliance on Google’s Android platform by switching to other platforms such as Windows Phone, Tizen, and Firefox OS. Industry sources believe the percentage of products using the Android platform is likely to fall continuously in China.
Android is an open platform, and with price advantages, many handset makers in China are using the Android platform. Currently, Android has more than 80% of share in the China smartphone platform market. The heavy reliance has been causing concerns in China.
Some China-based handset brands have been seeking cooperation with other platform developers. ZTE and TCL are the first two firms to cooperate with Mozilla and plan to introduce new products with Firefox OS platform in mid-2013. The new products are aimed at emerging markets such as Central and South America and Eastern Europe. Huawei is cooperating with Mozilla and Tizen.
However, handset makers believe China-based firms are unlikely to massively adopt other platforms in the short run as Android continues to be the most attractive and mature open platform on the market.
Handset firms noted that most China-based handset brands face the problem of relying heavily on the Android platform, which is the same problem for Samsung and HTC, but Samsung has been putting effort into diversifying by acquiring MeeGo, integrating Bada and developing Tizen while other handset makers simply do not have the resources and time to do the same.
China to modify plan to open up mobile telecom sector [Xinhua, Jan 23, 2013]
The government is considering adjusting a plan that will allow privately-owned companies to enter the mobile telecommunications sector, a government official said on Wednesday.
Zhang Feng, director of the telecommunications development department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said at a news briefing that the ministry is reviewing opinions collected from the public and will improve the plan based on its review.
In early January, the MIIT created a pilot plan that will allow Chinese-funded private companies to buy basic mobile telecom services from the country’s major operators, add their own services and then sell the services to customers through their own brands.
Private companies will not have to build mobile telecoms infrastructure, but only set up a customer service system and other supporting networks if necessary, the plan said.
The ministry said the pilot program aims to allow private capital to further enter the telecom industry and give full play to the flexibility and creativity of private firms, as well as promote market competition and improve mobile telecom services.
The plan was published online on Jan. 7, with public opinions to be solicited until Feb. 6.
At present, China’s mobile telecom sector is dominated by the state-owned companies China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.
– News Analysis: China to open up mobile telecom sector [Xinhua, Jan 15, 2013]
… Shi Wei, an expert with the Institute of Economic System and Management under China’s top economic planner, said that private firms participating in the program must strive to make innovations in their services, or else they will become just agents for major carriers.
“Private companies should develop more innovative applications and provide differentiated services to win their share of the market,” Shi said. …
… The pilot program is designed to last for two years.
Private enterprises can send applications to telecom authorities within the first year of the program.
China has attached great significance to encouraging private investment, as it plays an important role in creating jobs, boosting domestic consumption and maintaining sustainable economic growth.
In 2010, China’s State Council, or the Cabinet, announced policies to open a range of government-run industries to private investment, including water projects, power generation, mining, as well as the telecommunication sector.
To help implement those policies, the MIIT made a detailed plan for guiding private capital to enter the telecom industry in June 2012.
So there are wider reasons for such a change of attitude as well:
– 2012 profits slow at China’s central SOEs [XinHua, Feb 8, 2013]
– Private, collective businesses’ trade outpaces SOEs [Xinhua, Jan 3, 2013]
Private and collectively-owned businesses saw their foreign trade expand faster than that of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and foreign-funded companies in the January and November period, according to the national economic planner.
In the first 11 months, foreign trade at private and collectively-owned companies totaled 1.09 trillion U.S. dollars, up 18.1 percent year on year, according to data released by the National Development and Reform Commission on Thursday.
The total figure included 687.32 billion U.s. dollars in exports, up19.4 percent, and 402.75 billion U.S. dollars in imports, up 15.9 percent, the data showed.
In contrast, foreign-funded firms saw foreign trade rise 1.9 percent year on year to reach 1.72 trillion U.S. dollars between January and November.
Meanwhile, trade for SOEs dropped 1.1 percent from a year earlier to 685.9 billion U.S. dollars in the first 11 months, as exports declined 4 percent in the period while imports posted a slight increase of 0.9 percent, the data showed.
The General Administration of Customs previously released disappointing trade data for November due to slackened external demand. China’s exports grew just 2.9 percent year on year in November, while the growth of imports remained unchanged from a year earlier.
4M[bps] broadband to cover 70 percent of Chinese users in 2013 [Xinhua, Feb 26, 2013]
More than 70 percent of China’s Internet users will enjoy access to broadband Internet services in 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said Tuesday.
The percentage of users with access to 4M[bps] or faster services climbed 23 percentage points to 63 percent in 2012 from the previous year, said Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology.
Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services will cover 35 million households this year, as FTTH households grew by 49 million to reach 94 million in 2012, Miao said.
The government also hopes to add more than 25 million new fixed-line broadband subscriber households, as the number of fixed-line broadband subscriber households rose by 25.1 million to 175 million in 2012, Miao said.
Other goals expanding the number of public wireless hot spots by 1.3 million, Miao said.
FTTH refers to a form of fiber-optic communication delivery that reaches one living or working space. The fiber extends from a central office to the subscriber’s living or working space.
Broadband network expansion in the pipeline [China Daily via Xinhuanet, March 31, 2013]
China is expected to have 20 million new broadband Internet subscribers this year and a total of 250 million subscribers by the end of 2015, the country’s top industry regulator said on Friday.
“The nation needs to improve broadband speed. Our aim is to install fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband connections for 35 million families this year,” said Industry and Information Technology Minister Miao Wei.
The announcement came after an investigation of two domestic telecom giants over alleged monopolistic practices in November.
[see: China Telecom, China Unicom pledge to mend errors after anti-monopoly probe [Xinhua, Dec 2, 2011]]
The broadband development plan is a part of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), which is to increase the country’s average broadband speed to 20 megabytes per second by the end of 2015.
China had 156 million Internet broadband users in 2011, 83 percent of the users’ Internet speed exceeding 2MB/s. About 45 million families were covered by the FTTH network, and the Internet surfing fee decreased by 30 percent compared with 2005.
However, Wu Hequan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said in an earlier report that the average download speed of China’s broadband is 1.15MB/s, half of the global speed.
China’s three telecom carriers will implement the plan and invest more in the industry.
As the major provider of China’s Internet broadband infrastructure, China Telecom will invest 40 billion yuan ($6.3 billion) to build the FTTH network this year, and attract 25 million new FTTH users, bringing the total number to 55 million, said Wang Xiaochu, chairman of China Telecom.
Xi Guohua, China Mobile‘s new chairman, said the company has built a broadband network for 4,100 villages and that number is expected to reach more than 8,000 by the end of this year. He also said the company will add 1.4 million WLAN wireless hotspots this year, and 1.2 million new Internet users.
China Unicom has more than 44 million broadband users, 90 percent of them connected at more than 2MB/s. The company has injected 60 billion yuan into broadband development in the past three years, said its Chairman Chang Xiaobing.
Sixteen Internet giants, including Baidu and Sina, attended the meeting and promised to improve their services online.
China Unicom’s 3G subscribers hit 76.46 mln [Xinhua, Jan 19, 2013]
China Unicom [W-CDMA], the country’s second-largest mobile operator by subscribers, said in a latest report that it added 3.13 million 3G subscribers in December, bringing its total 3G users to 76.46 million.
The carrier’s 2G subscribers totalled 163 million as of the end of December, a decrease of 36,000 from November, according to the report filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
The operator’s Internet users with broadband access amounted to 93.87 million as of last year, the statement said.
Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) showed China’s 3G users had reached 220 million by November.
The MIIT said China will add an estimated 100 million new 3G subscribers this year.