The internet looks different in China - but we can learn so much from it
Hands down the most fascinating talk I went to today was from local media South China Morning Post and Abacus, who walked us through their China Internet Report 2019, a deep dive into the Chinese tech landscape from user behaviour to investment trends.
From showing all the Chinese counterpart companies to Western giants (eg; Google vs. Baidu) to demonstrating just how big China's tech consumption is (eg; there are currently more people paying with their phones in China than people in the USA) the report provides a good primer on anyone wanting to understand the Chinese tech landscape and where it's headed.
Only got time for the headlines? Here's the four key trends to know:
1/ China's 'copycat' tech industry is now being copied. Having pioneered the 'super app'; a one-stop shop for services from shopping to ride hailing to money transfers with platforms like WeChat, Alipay and Meituan, Chinese companies are now seeing this type of app replicated overseas with Facebook's expanded Messenger app offering, LINE and Go-Jek.
2/ China is racing ahead with 5G. China is putting a lot of resources into rolling out 5G - its currently piloting 5G in more than a dozen cities with a total population of 167 million - and that's just to begin. It also holds double the amount of patents for 5G technology compared to the USA, indicating that there's already diversity in thinking and approach from the local market.
3/ China is using AI on a massive scale. With regulated systems in place to more easily roll out AI on a broad scale, China's focus of AI centers on access control, customised recommendations, surveillance and smart city solutions, meaning anything from paying your subway fare to catching criminals and identifying citizens could be rolled out in the near future.
4/ Social credit is becoming a reality in China. No it's not a Black Mirror episode, since 2013 China has had the intention to 'score each citizen based on behaviour' in order to encourage trustworthiness and good behaviour. While it's a big project, it's grown in prominence and has already spawned local businesses, and the structures to rolling out such a system rely heavily on tech. Wired have a good explainer if you want to learn more.
You can read the report in full here.