With over 731 million people now using the internet in China, it’s clear that this vast nation is at the forefront of the digital revolution.
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So what are the key trends that define China’s internet use in 2017?
WeChat reigns supreme
Whilst westerners are used to using social media sites like Facebook, it’s WeChat that dominates China’s communication needs.
Owned by the powerful Tencent company, WeChat is by far the most popular messaging app in China. And it’s not just the communicative powers of the app that has proven so successful, as it can also be used as a payment tool, and it even looks to be taking off overseas.
Baidu’s search popularity
Whilst WeChat has started including search features, it has some way to go before it catches up with Baidu.
This is China’s leading search engine that has proven to be so successful that it has even branched out into the realms of artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, and could soon be giving Google a run for its money.
Online gaming is huge
Last year it was reported that over half of all of China’s internet users play games. Whether it’s on a smartphone or in one of the hugely popular internet cafes, it seems that video games aren’t only enjoyed by the young.
And whilst it remains to be seen whether the casinos of Macau will be shaken by the debate over online versus land-based slots gaming that has been summarised at Lucky Nugget Casino, it seems as though the Chinese are turning to their smartphones for their gaming entertainment.
Food delivery and taxi hailing
It also seems that Chinese people are also increasingly using their mobiles to hail taxi cabs and order in food.
Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Didi are now used by over 168 million people, and food delivery apps enjoyed a phenomenal 40% in the first six months of 2016 alone. And with 95% of Chinese people using a smartphone to carry out their internet activities, we’re going to be seeing plenty more of these functional apps in China.
The rise of the bowed head tribe
And finally, whether it’s sharing video messages on WeChat or playing online slots, it seems as though these entertaining smartphone apps have all led to what’s been known as the ‘bowed head tribe’.
This amusing phrase is used to describe those people who are simply unwilling to look up from their smartphones to engage with the world around them – perhaps things in China aren’t so different as in the West!
Photo by danicuki