Once Notorious for Copying, China’s Tech Giants Are Now Being Copied by the West

Once Notorious for Copying, China’s Tech Giants Are Now Being Copied by the West

by July 26, 2019

As China emerges as a tech powerhouse, successful concepts from Chinese tech giants are being studied and replicated by Asian and Western counterparts, according to a new report by South China Morning and its tech-focused news site Abacus.

In the China Internet Report 2019, launched at Hong Kong’s RISE conference earlier this month, the Hong Kong-based media company and its tech unit claim that China’s Internet giants, which used to be called copycats for creating clones of Western social media platforms, are now trendsetters that are being copied by Internet companies from all part of the world.

The report cites the “super app” model, a concept focusing on offering a one-stop shop for a wide range of services ranging from shopping to ride hailing, money transfers and flight bookings, which Chinese tech companies have pioneered through platforms such as WeChat, Alipay, and Meituan.

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Since introducing the model, several global tech companies have followed suit, including Japan’s top messaging app LINE, which now offers services including a digital wallet, news streaming, video on demand and digital comic distribution; Indonesia’s “decacorn” company Go-Jek, which started as a transportation network and logistics startup and later expanded to digital payments, food delivery, grocery shopping, and more; and Facebook’s standalone messaging app, Messenger, which now has multiple features including chatbots, games and mobile payments.

China’s online shopping giants and startups have also pioneered social e-commerce and live streaming, with platforms like Taobao, Pinduoduo and Mogu.

Amazon launches Amazon Live in February 2019, which features live-streamed video of hosts demonstrating products, which viewers can buy directly from a carousel that displays under the video. Instagram introduced Checkout in March 2019, which has enabled 130 million users to buy items by tapping on product tags. And Google plans to add new shopping features to YouTube.

China is also leading the way in short video. Short video app from Chinese company ByteDance TikTok has taken the world by storm, becoming the most downloaded app on the iOS App Store for five consecutive quarters. Though platforms like Vine introduced the format in 2012, Chinese companies have been the first to turn the short video format into a success, the report says.

In November 2018, Facebook launched Lasso, its short video app designed to compete with TikTok, and Snapchat added TikTok to the list of companies it considers to be competitors in February 2019.