Key Challenges for Internet Penetration in China

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Partner Post - Quantil Inc. Global Content Delivery Network

Posted: June 28, 2016


Laura Mellon is the Content Marketing Manager for QUANTIL. For the past 6 years, Laura has been a writer and translator, specializing in content for technology companies. She has worked as an independent contractor and in-house with global brands, such as Intel and Kroll Ontrack. She is passionate about helping people discover new ways to understand and use technology.


The annual Internet Trends Report for 2016 was released this month by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). It provides a detailed overview of current and future trends for the Internet in different global markets.

Currently, the Asia Pacific region accounts for 52% of global Internet usage among 3 billion users. In China, one of the greatest challenges for Internet adoption is that much of the population is located rurally, where Internet access is a key issue. The adoption of technology in these rural areas is also a challenge, particularly in low income areas, due to affordability and education. However, the rise of infrastructure investment coupled with low interest rates demonstrate a positive outlook for the future of Internet usage in China.

Voice-to-text Applications

Communication applications are the most popular category in China. It’s also important to remember that typing in Chinese is significantly more difficult than typing in English. As such, mobile applications with voice-to-text communications are becoming increasingly popular. The technology used for these applications has significantly improved over the past 20 years, enabling a faster word-per-minute input on devices with greater ease and veracity.

Baidu text-to-speech daily stats

Voice-to-text-applications data Quintal

Source: 2016 Internet Trends Report, KPCB

Improved accuracy in speech recognition has driven a recent surge in the adoption of this technology. Previously, the key concerns of accuracy and latency prevented consumers from using this technology as a replacement for traditional type-to-text. The shift from 95% accuracy to 99% accuracy has made this technology truly valuable to consumers. This value can be seen in time savings as well as ease of use since interactions are becoming more hands- and vision-free.

E-Commerce through Messaging Applications

One of the most interesting facts presented by Hillhouse Capital in the Internet Trends Report was that there has been over 100% growth in the number of users making purchases through WeChat, the free messaging & calling app developed by Tencent in China. Approximately 31% of their users have made purchases through the app in 2016, up from 15% in 2015.

It has also been shown that e-commerce purchases are mainly made through WeChat, with 32% of purchases made in the JD Mall feature and 23% made through WeChat public accounts. This move towards social applications as a strong e-commerce channel will prove to be an important strategic consideration for businesses delivering into China.