In this week’s roundup of international digital marketing news, a trio of stories involving companies in China. Why Apple Pay will struggle to find a foothold in the advanced Chinese mobile payment market, Xiaomi’s plans for Indian domination, and Chinese state media’s criticism of Alibaba for its counterfeiting problems. Also, two stories from Russia: Google’s antitrust case loss and a new assessment of the Russian social media landscape.
A wave of new payment apps recently launched in the Chinese market, all created by major players in the smartphone market – Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Huawei Pay. However, Techinasia.com argues that Chinese consumers are unlikely to flock to these apps thanks to their loyalty to Alipay and WeChat Wallet – the feature-packed alternatives firmly entrenched in consumer spending on Alibaba and Tencent-owned platforms.
The article draws interesting comparisons with how consumer spending is structured differently in China: in markets like the US and UK, credit card companies handle loyalty programmes and a “payment app” just needs to be a digital alternative to your credit card. In China, users expect to be able to purchase from associated platforms, buy lottery tickets/stocks and access a digital savings account all without leaving the app.
Thanks to aggressive discounting and solid tech, Xiaomi is a significant force in the Chinese smartphone market. However, the popular manufacturer is faced with slowing sales in China and is now in second place to Huawei. In a recent article, Technode.com takes a look at the company’s strategy and the evidence that entry into the Indian market is a key priority. A projected rise of online smartphone sales in India from 30% to 50% is hoped for.
Last year 100 million smartphones were sold in India. Xiaomi entered the Indian market in July 2014, initially selling exclusively through Flipkart and later through Amazon.com and Snapdeal. A Xiaomi factory was opened in Sricitiy, Andhra Pradesh in August 2015, and the Indian-made Redmi Note 3 ($150 USD RRP) was launched in November 2015.
Russian Search Tips has an end-of-Winter update on Russia’s social media landscape, and while vKontakte is still king (46.6 million monthly users, ahead of Odnoklassniki at 31.5 million), the period has seen growth for western brands. The number of authors on Instagram has grown five times in about 9 months since Spring 2015. Facebook use is also growing, though intriguingly, it seems to be enjoying success as a venue for business communication (Facebook apparently accounts for more than 30% of all business-related messages on Russian social media).
Another shifting aspect of the audience is the demographic mix. Under 18s are now a slightly smaller section of the market, but women continue to dominate. Twitter and Livejournal are the only networks in Russia with a majority male userbase – Instagram’s audience is 77% female, and Odnoklassniki is similarly unbalanced (69% – notably vKontakte only has a 56% female audience).
Chinese state media has reportedly drawn attention to the rampant counterfeiting problems on Alibaba platforms, not only featuring perennial pirate hangout Taobao, but also casting doubt on the authenticity of restaurants posted on Ele.me. In the latter case, it is alleged that unlicensed, unsanitary kitchens are offering food through the food delivery website.
The announcements came in a week in which Alibaba owner Jack Ma outlined new strategies to tackle counterfeiting on Taobao – apparently going so far as going after the counterfeiters on rival sites like JD.com and WeChat. Nevertheless, Alibaba faces an uphill struggle and has yet to end counterfeiting despite repeated assurances in the past.
Google’s policy of pre-installing a suite of Google apps on all Android phones – including Gmail, Google Search and Google Play apps – has been the subject of an ongoing battle with Yandex in Russia. According to Venturebeat.com, the Moscow arbitration court has shot down an appeal from Google and found Google guilty of anti-competitive practices. The ruling will likely lead to a fine and a re-examination of Google manufacturer contracts – Google will be forced to give up compulsory app installation.
Action is also likely to be taken in the EU, where Google is similarly being investigated. A ruling against Google would hardly be surprising – the case has obvious similarities with rulings that eventually saw Internet Explorer de-coupled from versions of Microsoft Windows in Europe.
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Mao Money, Mao Problems photo by Flickr user whatleydude
Xiaomi logo sign photo by Flickr user Jon Russell
The eerie yet wonderful Moscow Metro photo by Flickr user Christopher Michel
Fake Chinese Monopoly photo by Flickr user Cory Doctorow