There’s no doubt e-commerce and mobile are booming globally, but how do things compare between the mature European market and the rapidly-growing space in Asia?
PerformanceIN caught up with Jenny Quan, executive dean of Cheetah Lab and head of international marketing at Cheetah Mobile to discuss mobile internet development, key trends and similarities and differences between the industry in Europe and China.
Cheetah Lab has recently analysed the European and Chinese markets looking at mobile phones, apps, mobile ad trends and what’s next in the space. Where does Europe stand where it comes to mobile internet?
Jenny Quan: Although the European internet market as a whole has innovative companies, high-quality users, high ad revenue and advanced technologies, its transition towards mobile has been slower than the US and China in certain respects.
Perhaps due to its small population and high level of language diversity, gaming companies notwithstanding, Europe has produced relatively few mobile internet giants that have been able to achieve widespread success globally. Also, unlike China where local developers dominate the app rankings, Europe’s app rankings feature a mix of local and overseas developers, with the top app in most categories coming from the US.
And what about China?
JQ: China’s mobile internet industry is advancing rapidly and has already achieved a leading position in the world. This is the result of a variety of factors.
First of all, China has a large number of local internet giants that have been remarkably successful at establishing comprehensive mobile products, platforms and entire ecosystems specifically tailored to the region’s unique market environment.
Secondly, many Chinese internet users skipped the PC era, moving straight into mobile.
Finally, China’s huge population and strong mobile networks have provided fertile ground for the rapid development of its mobile internet market.
How do you think these regions compare to others?
JQ: China and Europe differ from other regions in various ways. For example, China's e-commerce industry is famously large and innovative. Lately, e-commerce app developers in the region have been experimenting with new ways of embedding content such as articles, short videos and live streaming into their platforms in order to improve the user experience and increase conversion rates. In Europe, although the market is very mature, it is highly influenced by American giants like Facebook and Google. In this way, it is much more similar to the US market than the Chinese.
In terms of mobile monetisation, what challenges are Europe and China facing?
JQ: In China, the challenge is that the users are not accustomed to paying for apps and content, so most apps rely heavily on advertising for monetisation. The problem with that model is that the user quality is not as good compared to Europe and the US.
As for Europe, there are so many different countries and languages, it makes it hard for internet companies to accrue the massive user bases we see in the US and China. At the same time, the European mobile internet market is still moving slowly, which limits the growth potential of many apps.
And what are the key mobile trends for both these regions?
JQ: I think 5G will be the next major trend in both of these markets. The evolution of the internet speed has brought us from text to images, and now we have entered the video era. I believe that in the next few years, the development of 5G will continue to change our daily lives, particularly in the area of the Internet of Things. As mobile users, we will be increasingly connected to the world around us. Whether it is how we experience our favourite apps or interact with smart devices and the cities in which we live, faster and more reliable mobile networks will make much of this technology possible.
What do you think the next big thing in mobile internet will be? Will it be different depending on the region?
JQ: The next big thing will be connecting online service with people’s daily lives. I think this will be the same all over the world. The only difference will be timing. For example, in the last six months, bike sharing apps have become incredibly popular in Chinese cities. These apps are filling a very specific yet widespread need, and I think it is just a matter of time before these apps, or apps like them, expand and reach similar levels of success in the rest of the world.