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8 Key China Highlights from Mary Meeker’s Influential 2019 Internet Trends Report

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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.

With China being the most online country in the world (at least in terms of user population, at 0.8 billion people), it naturally features a fair bit in the report, and there’s even a whole section dedicated just to it.

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:

Meituan and Pinduoduo Got Specific Shout-Outs as Non-US Innovators

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 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:

Meituan: The “One-Stop Super App” That’s Hungry for Expansion

And here’s some easy-to-digest background on cheap goods / group-buying app Pinduoduo:

How a Cut-Price Upstart Took on Alibaba and JD to Become China’s Fastest-Growing E-Commerce Platform

China is Helping Lead the Way in “Direct Financial Services”

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.

China is Going Big on Data

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).

Related:

WATCH: This Company is Selling Big Data to Retailers

China is at the High End of the Internet Regulation Scale

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 Held Up as an Example of Educational Trends

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.

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”.

Short Videos are Driving Internet Usage in China

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.

Related:

A Quick Guide to China’s Competing Short Video Apps

Games are Sparking Innovation in a Host of Areas

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”.

Related:

Tencent Launches New WeChat Game to Help Children in Rural China

The gamification and social aspects of shopping apps and online education are also noted as key trends.

WeChat is Having a Global Impact

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.

Related:

Mark Zuckerberg Regrets Not Learning from WeChat Sooner

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.

Cover photo: © Lei Xu | Dreamstime.com

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