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China’s Silicon Valley: Meet the Chinese counterparts to 11 of the most popular US tech companies


The Great Firewall of China has blocked even the mightiest companies.

Go online in China and you’ll find an internet that looks very different than the one you’d see in most other countries. The mainstays of the Web — Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc. — are either unavailable or on the periphery, hindered in large part by a government that’s made censorship and surveillance the norm.

And the Western tech powers that aren’t internet-based have still struggled to grow in a country that tends to favor its own, and in a market where consumer habits often differ than those in the US.

Uber flamed out. Apple is sputtering. Netflix can't get started. Amazon is flailing. Google and YouTube aren't even there. The result: the rise of several tech companies that provide services similar to the biggest names elsewhere, but have leveraged China’s massive market to become giants on their own.

Despite their size, though, many of these titans aren’t well-known outside of their home country. So to help you get acquainted, here’s a few of China’s biggest tech powers, and their closest peers in the US.




Baidu is the closest thing to a Google of China.

Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Baidu's search engine is the most popular site in the country, and it operates several tangential services, including tools for maps and cloud storage. It’s working on self-driving cars, echoing Google’s efforts with Waymo, and ramping up its AI efforts as well.




Apple doesn’t have a clear analog, as smartphone users in China aren’t as fiercely loyal to one brand as Americans. But as the country’s biggest phone maker, Huawei could be considered in the ballpark.
The Mate 9 is a quietly excellent phone, but has gained little traction in the US as a result of Huawei's lack of relationships with the major mobile carriers.Business Insider/Jeff Dunn


Its P10 and Mate 9 phones are certainly premium, though its wide-ranging device lineup makes it more comparable to a company like Samsung.




It’s a similar story with Xiaomi, another electronics manufacturer that produces various high-quality smartphones and has gained a decent following.

Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun.China Stringer Network/Reuters

Many of Xiaomi's devices look similar to Apple's, but other devices, like the near-bezel-free Mi Mix, are trailblazers in their own right. Still, the fact that Xiaomi slaps its name on a truckload of devices, ranging from fitness trackers to rice cookers, puts it closer to Samsung than Apple in scope.



Tencent is the Facebook of China, a sweeping internet company with its hands all over the Chinese internet.
It's hard to overstate the importance of WeChat in China.Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Tencent is best known for its array of influential messaging and social media platforms. The most notable of those is WeChat, which, with nearly 1 billion monthly users, is China’s biggest social service. WeChat has no real peer in the West — it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of Facebook (the app), iMessage, Google News, Venmo, and Slack rolled into one.




There are two Chinese companies that could be likened to Amazon. First and foremost is Alibaba.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma is one of the more well-known execs from the Chinese tech scene.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Alibaba’s offerings expand well beyond e-commerce: its Alipay payment app, for one, is enormous. Still, the company is primarily bolstered by its range of online shopping sites.

Those include Tmall.com, the country’s biggest consumer retail site, and Taobao, which is like a Chinese eBay. And that’s not to mention its massive cloud business, another area where Amazon is dominant in the US.




It’s also worth noting JD.com, which shares some interesting similarities with Amazon.
Aly Song/Reuters

Though it isn’t nearly as powerful as Alibaba and Tmall, JD is still a major e-commerce player by any other metric. Whereas Alibaba focuses on operating a marketplace where merchants can connect and sell to buyers, JD.com runs a more controlled shop, selling and shipping name-brand goods to consumers directly. Like Amazon, it’s also investing in drone delivery.




Didi Chuxing is China’s answer to Uber, and nearly as large in its own right.
A mascot of Didi Chuxing at the company's headquarters in Beijing.Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

The ride-hailing giant beat its American counterpart out of China last last year after a fierce price war, eventually merging with Uber’s Chinese wing. Apple famously invested $1 billion into Didi Chuxing in May 2016.



The closest thing to Twitter in China is Sina Weibo.
Petar Kudjundzic/Reuters

Owned by media giant Sina and Alibaba, the site is more of a cross between Facebook and Twitter than a full-on clone of the latter, but it still lets users write pithy "microblogs" and follow various celebrities. And unlike Twitter, it’s growing rapidly.




No one video streaming service dominates China the way YouTube and Netflix do elsewhere.
Youku founder and CEO Victor Koo (second from right) rings the bell of the New York Stock Exchange after his company went public in 2010.Spencer Platt/Getty

You could call the Alibaba-owned Youku an equivalent to YouTube, but that’s not quite a 1:1 comparison: True user-generated video has been clamped down by the Chinese government, making it much less prevalent there than it is in the US.




That said, Netflix has a somewhat natural peer in Youku’s biggest rival: the Baidu-owned iQiyi.
A screenshot of iQiyi's homepage.Jeff Dunn/Screenshot

The largest on-demand video site in China, iQiyi is currently transitioning from being an ad-supported service to one that makes its various licensed programs available through a subscription, just like Netflix.

Also like Netflix, it’s spending a good amount of cash to produce original shows.

To solidify the similarity, Netflix licensed its own shows to iQiyi earlier this year after struggling to enter the market naturally.




Imagine if one company ran Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music, and you’ll have an idea of how much of a monopoly Tencent has on music streaming services in China.
The homepage of QQ Music, one of China's two largest music streaming services.Jeff Dunn/Screenshot

After merging its own QQ Music app with competitors KuGou and Kuwo last year, Tencent is now said to own more than 70% of the country’s music streaming market. Naturally, it uses these services to hook people into the rest of its many platforms.

KuGou and QQ Music are the biggest of the trio, and could both be considered the Spotify or Pandora of China. The latter is even profitable, a rarity for these kind of services.




Tantan is China’s biggest dating app, and the country’s closest comparison to Tinder.
Tantan/iTunes

The three-year-old company follows the familiar formula of having you swipe left or right on random singles in the hopes of finding a match and hooking up. It reportedly claims to have a 6:4 male-to-female ratio, which is probably as equal as these things are going to get.



To be clear, all of these sites and companies are popular for a reason: They work well and provide useful services. But their compliance with a censored internet can’t be ignored. It’s not like the Western tech giants with some foothold in China are much better, either. Though the Great Firewall has helped propel many companies to soaring heights, Chinese consumers longing for an open Web are still missing out.
China President Xi Jinping.Reuters/Jason Lee


SOURCE: TECH INSIDER
China’s Silicon Valley: Meet the Chinese counterparts to 11 of the most popular US tech companies China’s Silicon Valley: Meet the Chinese counterparts to 11 of the most popular US tech companies Reviewed by Izzyee Technology on August 07, 2017 Rating: 5

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