How Will China’s Online Presence Dominate the Internet?
It was recently reported that China now has 457 million internet users. That’s 457,000,000!! About 145 million more than the entire United States population (currently estimated at 311,918,313 as of this posting).
A great deal of this online presence has been driven by mobile device internet access, which is being estimated at 303 million. (This is still more than the potential U.S. online population if you don’t count the about 7% who are under 5 years of age.)
While this has implications for China in terms of communication, sociology, and economic growth, what will be the effects of China’s online presence on the rest of the world?
Here are some potential outcomes:
1. Online communicative innovation that has in the past often originated in the U.S. will increasingly originate in China. As Chinese consumers become Chinese entrepreneurs, changes in the originating culture of innovation may have marked effects on the types of new products that are developed. For example, differences in writing and language alone will likely spur innovation that would not be likely in the Western world.
2. China as a source of entertainment will grow at an increasing pace. The world has just begun to see the massive technology growth in India result in not just technology innovation, but also innovation in the spread of Indian influence on Western entertainment (Bollywood and the rising of Indian pop singers are only the tip of the iceberg). As the Chinese presence is made more clearly on the world online marketplace, we’ll likely see a significant Chinese impact on entertainment as well. This is important not because of the entertainment value, but because commonality in entertainment has a way of removing cultural barriers that will pave the way for more cultural and commercial interaction.
3. The internet must evolve to accommodate this next stage of rapid growth. Whether it means more powerful mobile applications or a revamping of how we approach bandwidth issues, the type of online growth that China is experiencing will clearly tax current structures to the point that innovation is critical to ensure future quality and future growth.
4. Online issues such as digital piracy and personal information privacy just got more complicated and the complication is not going to go away. If you thought it was a bit concerning having your 200 Facebook friends see that embarrassing picture of you, just think about sharing it with another billion or so online associates. And as music, entertainment, literature, and information become more interchangeable across cultures, new business models will have to be developed to pay for the innovation of originality in these areas due to world access, world desire for these products, and worldwide innovation in digital piracy.
These are just a few thoughts. How else might China’s massive online presence change the future of the internet?