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.
Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the big four tech companies, may soon be competing more directly with Chinese firms — Baidu, Huawei, Sina and Alibaba, to name a few. In the not-too-distant future we may see that Apple’s fall from the top spot foreshadows what other big western tech companies are up against as they seek further growth from global markets.
Linda Yueh, adjunct professor of economics at London Business School and a fellow at St Edmund Hall in Oxford university, explains in the Financial Times.