In many aspects, beyond just technological, China has outrightly challenged the notion of connectivity depending on an American or global brand. By creating its own alternative versions to popular platforms such as Google, Twitter and even WhatsApp, it has birthed creative solutions within its own borders.
If you’re looking for a quick directory on China compatible sites – you’ve found your read. Let’s start with a giant.
For the rest of the world that relies heavily on Google, it may seem impossible to imagine a society without the search engine that has infiltrated almost every part of our lives. For China, Google searches make up of less than 2% of all searches in China. That’s hardly an impact on the Chinese market.
Instead, Baidu acts as the dominant search engine in China, having been cofounded by two Chinese nationals in 2000. With the capability to index trillions of webpages, it is definitely a force to be reckoned with, no less superior in its technical build. Not surprisingly, its current market cap value stands at 59.9 billion.
In August, Baidu announced their version of the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project – originally a Google-led project. Baidu’s version, known as the Mobile Instant Pages (MIP), is conceptually similar to AMPs. As with AMPs, MIPs also involve the creation of an additional page using HMTL market, JS libraries and local caching.
Baidu’s MIPs were likely conceptualized due to the level of censorship in China against AMPs and Google searches. Despite Google’s strategy to expand AMPs into the Asia Pacific region, the access restrictions make it difficult for users in China to reap the benefits of this technological advancement.
Just the mere act of Baidu re-creating AMPs is a strong sign that the Chinese market is not one that can be easily infiltrated.
As a Social Networking Site, Ren Ren possesses many similar functions to Facebook (which cannot break through the Great Firewall of China). Some of its functions include updating your personal status, blogging, voting and sharing content with others. As a user, you can also upload and share your own photos, articles and external links. To boost interaction and engagement levels on the site, of course, it comes with the ability to comment on the content of others, leave messages and respond to comments. All this is expected, and atypical, of a social networking website today.
Although it is heralded as the Facebook equivalent, Ren Ren does stand out in different ways. Rather than generating most of its revenue from advertising, Ren Ren leverages instead on its games. On Ren Ren, you are also able to track the number of people who have visited your page, and you can even build a couple profile page.
No doubt these are innovative initiatives. However, Chinese nationals abroad tend not to use Ren Ren to completely replace Facebook. This boils down to an issue of connectivity, as Chinese nationals use Ren Ren to keep in touch with those people back home, and Facebook to remain connected with the social circles that they run in overseas.
Tencent QQ Mail
There has been speculation that the firewall is responsible for the slow download times of platforms like Gmail, which at one stage was reported to be up to 45 times slower than its China alternative – QQ Mail. Following complaints from users, Google itself openly reported that there was no technical issue with its back end, citing instead the government blockage as the root cause for the slow download times.
Controversy aside, QQ mail is one of the key products offered by Tencent in terms of online services. It boasts real-time notifications, 1G sized attachments limits as well as audio and video messages.
If you think the development of such China compatible sites will be stunted due to lack of global support, you can check that misconception at the door. In 2011, Apple announced that its latest iOS was designed to be more accessible to Chinese users, by support QQ Mail’s inbox. After seeing a viable opportunity, this move by Apple shows that global brands often support emerging markets so that they can catch the wave in time.
We couldn’t wrap up this article without talking about Alibaba – the company with the biggest IPO in history. It is made even more famous by the antics of its CEO, Alibaba is an e-Commerce site that rivals the likes of Amazon and eBay. The difference is that Alibaba rakes in more than twice the amount in sales.
Undoubtedly, Alibaba owes its success to its massive consumer base. To add on to that, strategy-wise, the Chinese company has positioned itself to sells ads by operating a number of commerce sites instead of focusing of the sale of merchandise. It also has a leaner process in terms of the buyer-seller relationship
– opting for direct sales on Taobao (one of Alibaba’s largest sites) instead of the bidding style that we see on eBay. Another important component of Alibaba’s success is its mobile-first approach – growth in this area lead to a whopping 149 percent increase year-on-year.
With its CEO aiming to extend his reach beyond the Chinese borders (as it has successfully done in Singapore), there is no telling how big Alibaba could expand as company.
Here’s our takeaway: Keep a look out for China compatible sites – they are gunning after their Western alternatives, and often times successfully so.
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