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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Review of China’s Digital Landscape 2014

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

2014 has nearly come to an end and it has been another massive year for both China and Mailman. We took a look at some of the big events, issues and trends that have shaped China’s Digital Landscape in 2014.

China Goes Mobile

In 2014, China continued their status as the country with the most netizens. We saw a push from telecommunication companies towards 4G networks and devices, while mobile users opting to use handheld devices for payments rather than PCs. One thing is for certain though, 2014 has proved that mobile is the future in China.

Fast facts:

  1. The average internet user owns 1.9 devices

  2. Smartphone users have reached 520M at the end of 2014

  3. Baidu for the first time ever saw more traffic from mobile than it does from PC in October.

  4. In August 2014 total number of mobile subscribers reached 1.27 billion, of those 480 million were 3G users and 30 million were 4G users

The Year of the Baba

Alibaba has had a phenomenal 2014. In September it recorded the worlds largest IPO which raised $22 billion worth of shares. This was followed up by the Singles Day sales figures for the world’s largest online shopping holiday; Alibaba recorded a staggering $9.3 billion worth of sales smashing previous records. To top it all off Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba become the richest man in China with an estimated fortune of $19.5 billion.

WeChat Grows, Weibo Evolves

2014 has seen the emerging role of WeChat and the evolving role of Weibo. Weibo has seen itself transform from a powerful social networking platform relying on peer-to-peer interaction into one that focuses more on news and information distribution. Meanwhile, WeChat, now with over 461 million monthly active users, has grown from an instant-messenger app to a mega-platform with a variety of services, including WePayments, a feature successfully introduced through it’s Chinese New Year ‘Red Envelopes’ campaign.

Taxi Apps Take Over

2014 has seen the rise of taxi related apps. China’s Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache currently have dominance over the 150 million users in the market. The two companies share over 99% of the market. It’s hard to see any other companies break into this market, including Uber who rolled into China in August 2013.

Developing Sports Market

2014 saw new sports organisations forming a presence online in China. The Bundesliga launched two channels, NFL franchises including the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers all launched a Weibo account, while the AFL’s Greater Western Sydney Giants opened a presence on Weibo. Meanwhile many other organisations and clubs all developed their presence online through new channels.

World Cup on Weibo

The World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world, and even though the Chinese national team didn’t qualify, over 105 million netizens made 1.49 billion interactions during the tournament. Interestingly, 52.2% of the users were female highlighting the level of popularity of all demographics. The Mailman wrapped up all the World Cup action in a case study focusing on Chinese social media.

Changing Online Broadcasting Landscape

China has ordered video-streaming sites to get state approval to run foreign TV shows and films as the authorities in the world’s largest Internet market tighten online control. China is set to impose a limit on the number of foreign television shows that Chinese online video-streaming services can offer, according to people familiar with the new policy, in its latest effort to control foreign-media content.

Meanwhile, in late 2014, Tencent teamed up with HBO as their exclusive online partner, highlighting the strong trend towards offering China more legitimate online entertainment channels. The deal will allow Tencent to stream popular HBO television series such as “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” exclusively to China through their Tencent Video stream.

Xiaomi Becomes China’s #1

Xiaomi has dominated the smartphone industry in China this year. Since releasing their first smartphone in 2011, Xiaomi has gone on to become largest smartphone manufacturer in China and third in the world. The Chinese company has launched in seven international markets already, however only 6% of total sales represent sales outside of China. The potential growth for Xiaomi is enormous, especially in developing countries that have low smart phone penetration. Xiaomi is on track to sell +60 million phones in 2014. In such a dynamic market it is hard to predict the success of any one company, however, in Xiaomi’s case, being able to capitalise on the international market will be the key to their 2015 success.

Singles Day

Singles Day is China’s answer to America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It originated in the 90’s amongst university students but has now become the largest online shopping holiday in the world. This year, its sales of $9.3 billion trumped the combined total of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many brands online in China celebrated Singles Day with special campaigns, with sports organisations also keen not to miss out.

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