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China, how more real time can you get?Chris Koehncke
活到老，学到老 and indeed, I’m off to Beijing for the first WebRTC Event on November 10/11 (here’s the English version as well) with great organization by the newly emerging Agora.io (I will have a follow-up post on them). I hesitate to say WebRTC as the event will more broadly focus on Real Time Communications. The event, to be held in the Northwest corner of Beijing is in the center of their technology world. I fully anticipate a large turn out of key managers from an array of company types from communication companies to gaming.
The rapid growth of China has allowed them to skip entire segments of what the Western world passed thru, enabling China to get on to the next game. For example, while only 30% of Chinese have an email address, Weichat has 1.1 billion registered users (rendering your Weichat handle more important than email). I expect China to be mobile only with WebRTC, with 1.2 billion mobile users, they’re only at 93% penetration of the market and thus it’s still growing. Internet use is predominately via mobile and China has actually seen PC access to the Internet drop (Internet penetration only at 50% this is growing as well). They are leading in the development of inexpensive smart phone such as OnePlus and Xiaomi, which will accelerate adoption. I also anticipate seeing WebRTC paired with custom hardware, China is the #1 manufacturer in the world with 22% marketshare as the manufacturer of virtually anything. So think all sorts of drones and small inexpensive hardware with comms elements.
Most of us are familiar tangentially with the uber big Chinese names like Alibaba, TenCent and Baidu, yet there are hundreds of large companies below these giants that you and I’ve never heard of and they don’t seem to mind. China, depending on how you count, is already the #1 economy in the world, they’ve got enough business without leaving their borders to worry about data protection laws in Europe or what brand of coconut water tech workers in Silicon Valley want.
In talking to Western companies, I detect a strong “whistling past the graveyard” emotion when they talk how “hard” it is to do business in China. My argument is how can you ignore this momentum? It will be too late to enter China in 5 years. Chinese tech employees work under a “996” program – come in at 9, stay for 9 hours and work 6 days a week. Organizations are flat with few managers but lots of small teams working using Agile methodology. The focus is on productivity. They mostly skip the fancy PowerPoint presentations. This sort of energy, even if wrong, produces so quickly, mistakes are rapidly buried under new developments. A tsunami force.
In my previous role working for a Western company in Asia, I had my rude awakening competing against a Chinese vendor at a service provider who was requesting a feature enhancement. By the time, I had relayed the feature request to the US product team and they had asked for clarification, the Chinese vendor had already implemented the feature. In a world of fast and slow, fast always wins.
Too difficult? China and the US recently entered a reciprocal agreement to issue 10-year business & tourist visas to it’s citizens. This makes it way easy to jet off to the mystic land and reduces to near zero the friction of travel between countries. But it’s a double edged sword, it also makes it quite easy for Chinese business people to come to the US, so if you don’t go to the battle, the battle will come to you.
Package #1 economy, fast paced development and free elements of WebRTC – and you can quickly imagine the Chinese market adopting RTC in serious way. Ironically, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the leading browser in China and Microsoft’s forward movement on WebRTC/ORTC makes this the perfect storm for WebRTC to gain traction.
All in all, I’m quite keen to get on the ground and sniff about and will certainly be reporting back during the event.