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Platforms made in China

This Asian country has its own digital ecosystem, in which each app has millions of users and features that are fully on par with those in the Western world. The following is a list of the leading technology networks and platforms in the planet's second largest economy.

13 April 2021

The consumption of online content in China takes place on platforms that are completely unknown to the Western world. The planet’s second largest economy has its own digital ecosystem with applications that technology lovers should know about.

 

-WeChat is not only WhatsApp’s Asian sister, it is much more than that. The app was launched in 2011, and by 2018 it was one of the most popular apps in China with more than 1 billion monthly active users.

 

  • WeChat is Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Uber, Tinder and Amazon on a single platform. It is a free service that allows users to chat, send photos and multimedia messages, as well as make calls or video calls.
  • It also features WeChat Pay, an in-app payment system that not only allows users to make monetary transactions, “but also allows users to send the popular ‘red envelopes’ that are used for New Year’s or wedding gifts,” as the BBC explains.
  • The application allows transactions to be made in U.S., Australian and New Zealand dollars, British pounds, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, and South Korean won.

 

-Baidu Inc. Although Google is the world’s largest online search engine, in China the platform only has limited reach. Baidu is the dominant company in China. Founded in 2000, it is also well-known for its work in technologies related to electric vehicles and artificial intelligence.

 

  • Robin Li, one of the founders, studied at Peking University and in 1991 jumped to the United States to continue his education at the University of Buffalo, however he left his graduate studies to develop software for the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. Li is currently one of the richest people in China with a fortune totaling US$ 6 billion.
  • The platform has 2 billion active users worldwide in addition to being a well-established search engine. At present the company has services including Baidu Maps; Baidu Yun, which offers cloud storage; and Baidu Baike, a collaborative online encyclopedia.
  • At the end of March, Baidu Inc., which is already listed on the New York Stock Exchange, opened on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and raised over US$ 3 billion at its opening.

 

-TikTok is an application that allows users to easily edit and share short videos with songs, text and original effects or those provided by the application. It was launched in 2018 by the ByteDance Chinese digital empire, and every day more brands are using it to promote their content.

 

  • The app achieved a record number of downloads in 2020, reaching 2 billion on Google Play.
  • The app’s success is due to its use of a machine learning algorithm that learns the type of content users prefer based on their behavior. This is known as extreme customization.
  • TikTok currently has 1.19 billion active users worldwide, according to Statista. Its most well-known feature is Lip Sync, which allows the user to synchronize their lip movements with the sound track of a music video, song, joke or other content.

 

-Weibo is Twitter’s Chinese competitor, but it offers far more than the little blue bird network as it is a hybrid of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which makes it a very attractive network for its users.

 

  • This platform has more than 497 million users, while Twitter has around 350 million.
  • The power of this network is so broad that the NBA closed a partnership deal to boost content distribution and consolidate its position as one of the most popular U.S. sporting events in China. Through this deal the NBA provides the platform with exclusive content, such as highlight videos, game recaps and images.

 

-Bilibili is YouTube’s counterpart. Among the platform’s most popular contents are video games, manga and anime, the three passions of its founder Xu Yi.

 

  • It recently launched a premium membership that allows its members access to special shows and live video streaming.
  • This platform is also known for its video commentary or Danmu feature, translated as “bullet curtain,” which allows users to make a quick comment at a certain time, which will then be overlaid on the screen covering the video content.

 

-iQiyi has more than 500 million active users and is known as the “Chinese Netflix” because it is a platform for watching videos online.

 

  • In 2020, iQiyi set out to conquer the foreign market with releases having subtitles in eight languages, including Spanish, English, Indonesian, Thai and Korean.
  • With over 600 films a year in production, it offers a widely varied catalogue featuring trending films and new and recommended features.

 

Alibaba began as “a meeting point for Chinese suppliers and foreign actors interested in doing business with the Asian giant,” according to the El País newspaper. Today it is the largest e-commerce group in the world, with a 75% retail market share in China and a product portfolio larger than Amazon’s. Its founder, Jack Ma, is one of the richest men in this Asian country.

  • The company ended 2020 with 779 million active consumers and revenue up 34% to US$ 82,068 billion.
  • However, 2021 did not start very auspiciously: the Chinese regulatory authorities imposed a fine of 18.2 billion yuan, or US$2.78 billion, for abuse of a dominant position.