Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2019 report has landed, causing the usual rustles of excitement in tech circles. In case you’ve never heard of it before, this is a “massively influential and in-depth report on the state of the internet” in the words of Quartz, which Meeker — a prominent venture capitalist — has dropped every year since 1995.
A lot of the trends mentioned in the report (images are taking over from text! Ecommerce is important!) are things that China has been ahead of the curve on for a while, but here are some of the other key China-adjacent take-aways to save you wading through all 334 slides of the original report:
Two of China’s major ecommerce players got their own dedicated slides as part of a section prefaced by the words, “Non-USA-Based Innovation Remains Robust… Data-Driven / Direct Fulfillment Growing Rapidly…” Umm, this report isn’t big on sexy, easy-to-understand language, we’re going to be honest. But hey, here are a couple of charts that are pretty straightforward:
Meituan has become “the go-to platform for local search & consumer service discovery,” in #China to local merchants , CEO Xing Wang is quoted as saying in #MaryMeeker BOND Internet Trends 2019 Report. https://t.co/4UzbOK3Ef1 pic.twitter.com/MhXzHAvsaa
— Meituan (@meituan) June 12, 2019
Love this slide: 443MM Pinduoduo users, doubled in just over a year.
Waze-like era of consumers directly "informing" the manufacturers what to make instead of manufacturers guessing and stocking products pic.twitter.com/kBZ4fZNEx9
— Varun (@varun_mathur) June 11, 2019
Meituan also re-emerges later on in the report as an example of China’s race toward “super-apps” — all-encompassing apps that enable users to do pretty much everything, from ordering food delivery to booking a holiday. Here’s a quick rundown of what Meituan is all about and how it’s shaping exactly that approach:
And here’s some easy-to-digest background on cheap goods / group-buying app Pinduoduo:
While reports of the death of cash in China may be exaggerated, mobile payments have gone huge in the country in recent years. How huge? Well, the number one mobile payment service, Alibaba’s Alipay, now has over 1 billion users. The app, “is also a provider of financial services such as loans, wealth management & insurance products to hundreds of millions of consumers & millions of small businesses on the Alibaba platform,” the report quotes Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai as saying.
In terms of new data captured, created, and replicated by region, China is now well ahead of the USA and, according to the report, is projected to catch up with Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (the leading region at present) by 2025.
Of course, how that data is then used is another issue (“privacy” is one of the key global concerns highlighted in the report).
No surprises here. China features toward the far end of the scale when it comes to “webs of worlds driven by local regulation”, driven by a centralized system that endeavors to “create a more harmonious digital society”. (Slide 191 onwards if you want to dig into this some more.)
VIPKid is a China-founded service that links children in China (typically aged 4-15 years-old) with teachers in the US for remote language instruction. They’ve witnessed rapid growth according to the report, tripling their student user base from 200,000 to 600,000 in the past two years. Over the same period, their teaching staff has gone from 30,000 to 70,000.
Cultural exchange is not merely your ability to eat with chopsticks and your student’s ability to recognize Cap’n Crunch (although that is part of it). Instead, it is a critical part of any two cultures’ ability to collaborate in all manner of ways. https://t.co/TC22b8p6Xg pic.twitter.com/QgaKehqVFm
— VIPKid (@TheVIPKIDLife) May 20, 2019
Meeker’s report highlights the company as an example of how online education platforms and services are scaling and taking on “different shapes and sizes”.
The full Chinese section starts (on page 293) with some big picture economic data, then gets into the trends, led by the impact of short video. China’s short video platforms are “leading user and usage growth across all app categories” the report states — again, not a huge shock for regular RADII readers.
The report points to WeChat’s Jump Jump game (which racked up over 100 million users in its first two week) as having helped drive an “ecosystem of mini-programs”, i.e. apps within the app. Similarly, it argues that Alipay’s Ant Forest initiative (which enables users to gain “green points” that can be used for afforestation projects) has helped spur “consumer engagement”.
The gamification and social aspects of shopping apps and online education are also noted as key trends.
Tencent’s all-encompassing behemoth of an app WeChat has been disrupting and driving all sorts of industries in China for some time now, but in addition to talking about its “mini-app” innovations, the report also points out how WeChat’s features have had a knock-on effect on platforms across the globe.
South Korea’s Kakao, Japan-founded Line, and the US-headquartered Instagram and WhatsApp are rolled out as examples of companies who have learnt from WeChat, adding similar features for payments, transportation, coupons, money transfer and more.
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