No doubt that mobile is shuffling China’s Internet industry landscape. Even the most tech-savvy companies are struggling with the shift to mobile last year.
Tencent did great job in the mobile field with its WeChat, Mobile QQ, QQ Music among a handful of other offerings, while others aren’t so lucky in constructing their own mobile arsenal, like Baidu. Baidu Map is currently the only app the company could be proud of and even though the app confronted with serious challenges from the competitors. Even Qihoo 360 has a bunch of well-positioned apps with solid moat.
It’s out of question that Chinese Internet juggernauts will be keeping investing heavily into mobile industry to compete for the untapped market. Let’s take a quick glimpse into Chinese mobile internet from various aspects listed below.
3rd party app market definitely ranks top as an efficient way to popularize apps. Baidu launched its own app store this year with Qihoo360 following suit to bake an app store into the company’s flagship product 360 mobile assistant.
In addition to app market, mobile browsers, stock ROM updating to preinstall 3rd parties are also common practices to promote mobile apps.
Take UC browser as an example. With a user base of 400 million, UC browser is the 3rd biggest mobile app in local market, but it was still sandwitched by tough guys like Tencent and Baidu. Tencent spent heavily promoting its own QQ mobile browser while Baidu was also doing the same thing. Reasons? Mobile browser is like the gateway to mobile internet, control it, you control the mobile traffic, it’s a war that can not lose for Tencent or Baidu. Also it could be utilized as a mini app market in a way that UCWeb adopted now to recommend 3rd party apps from within its browser.
If you ever want to survive the mobile Internet era, you have to develop your product to such a great extent that it can even serve as a platform. Tencent monopolized China’s instant messaging market via QQ and then expanded its tentacles to other territories like game, portal site and e-commerce.
And Tencent didn’t just stop there. After hitting the 300 million user mark within 2 years after launch, the Shenzhen-based company’s new killer app WeChat is suffices to intimidate others. WeChat is now far beyond a simple communicating app. Its public platform and APIs all contributed to the prosperity of its ecosystem.
The three fundamental business models on desktop also apply to mobile, including ads, games and ecommerce. That said, these models must be seriously modified to adapt to the new environment. For example, even for Baidu who controlled China’s search ad market till now still can’t achieve the same achievements on mobile setting. Mobile only accounted for less than 3% of its whole revenue. Doing advertising on mobile is quite hard due to nature limits of mobile phones like screen size, internet connection and so on.
Actually, the most reliable and profitable business model on mobile is still gaming. Tencent, Baidu and Qihoo360 all run their own mobile gaming platforms while Tencent currently is the 1st mobile game platform.
In addition to these, the hype of on-2-offline also brought many’s attention to the practice of luring mobile users into the doors of the local merchants. WeChat has done meaningful experiments in that regard with its mobile loyalty program. We still need to wait to see how it pans out.
X Factor in mobile Internet Era
The beauty of mobile internet is its unpredictable and potential which hasn’t been unleashed. There’re so many unknown X factors shaping the industry. Big companies often failed in timely examining and capturing these factors and use them towards their advantages. They’re just being too huge to act nimbly. That’s why there’re so many small but beautiful mobile startups caught big guy’s attention. Think of the Faceobook-instagram case. And we’re about to see more similar cases in the future.
Image credit: Bing Image