Most people think platforms and transformative ICT companies are best described by the acronym GAFA. Some add Microsoft to make it five. But living in Asia, we know better. There’s Baidu, Alibaba and TenCent. Alibaba has become one of the most highly valued technology companies in the world, and its recent string of strong financial results has signaled the continued rise of China’s internet industry and the heartiness of its hundreds of millions of online shoppers.
It is increasingly common to read/hear references to the Big Five (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) as the entities shaping our virtual experiences, and perhaps the trajectory of human development. But why are Alibaba and Tencent not included in this conversation? This Digital Asia Hub piece provides a valuable corrective: The attributes, connections, and behaviors we capture in our data — and how we model them — shape what our AIs value, and how they behave, i.e., their culture.
After cannibalizing the hardware businesses – may it be phones, laptops or network equipment – the Chinese Internet outfits are breathing on their western counterparts’ neck. Alibaba has greater reach than Amazon: Chinese are happier to buy online than Americans. Ecommerce accounts for about one-tenth of all retail sales in China compared with about 7 per cent in the US. Tencent’s WeChat messaging and calling app has more than 650m active monthly users and is catching up rapidly with Facebook’s WhatsApp, which has just passed the billion-user mark. Facebook is blocked in China, which has allowed microblogging website Sina Weibo to amass more than half a million users who not only post but use Weibo as a social media site similar to Twitter.
So Amazon is bigger than Walmart. When will Alibaba overtake Walmart? That will be the day, since there’ll be no help from cloud services The surge added another $40 billion or so to Amazon’s market cap. That will almost assuredly propel it to be more valuable than Walmart for the first time when the stock market opens Friday, making this a deeply symbolic moment for e-commerce and the Internet. It is also a nice present for Amazon, which celebrated its 20th birthday last week.
At one time, transaction-generated data (TGD) was the by product. E commerce or retailing services provided over the web was the main product. But if analysis of the TGD is used to give the company leverage in other sectors, resulting in acquisitions or entry .. .