Different apps for different parts of the world
"...It’s true, there are still some things Silicon Valley is doing well with no contest. Today, China is not yet making the operating systems, frameworks, programming languages, or open standards that the rest of the industry is using.
Yet when I think about it, neither is most of Silicon Valley. As has been ranted about by others, much of the funding and hype back home is all going to people making the exact same sort of consumer apps, gluing together tech to make a buck. Churning out the exact same sort of apps that folks are doing a pretty good job with on this side of the world.
When I’d first moved out and taken a look at mobile design here to write that last piece, it was fun to dive in and chuckle “Hah, some of these apps sure are weird”. It was interesting to see how technology has evolved independently to serve the needs on the ground here.
But it’s about to get a lot weirder. While China is an interesting case, we’ve still got places like India and large parts of Africa that are still far behind. Global internet penetration is still low. And as more people come online in those places, the apps and OSes they use may in no way resemble what we use now. They will look to technology to solve much of the same problems as us while carrying little of the same assumptions..."
From Dan Grover's excellent 'Chinese Mobile UI trends'.
For many years, I've taken the opportunity to travel extensively. At one point, I was in a very remote part of China and had to book a flight which required going to a small booking agency in this tiny city (for China at least, the population was still probably several million people). In it, I noticed that there was no desk phone, and all communication was taking place through a mobile, and various chat/calling services from a computer.
The year was 2005 - and it was then I realised that Internet was going to win over all communication systems in time.
And that Asia was well ahead of the curve in this sense due to not having a strong legacy infrastructure with all the old habits that come from this. It's largely what convinced me I'd be working in the telecommunication/technology world for most of my life. This was the future!
Even as the world gets flatter by the globalisation of many items/products, local tendencies and traits still win through for now. How many people in the West have even heard of WeChat, QQ or Line? And yet, they all have several hundred million users..... There's a lot that can be learned from looking outside your environment - even how focused on saving on bandwidth Chinese users are.
Related to this, with strong reports coming out even in Europe of how focused/aware users are with respect to their data usage, not to mention their absolute focus on not paying for add-ons to their existing monthly mobile phone plans, there's a lot to consider here.....
"They really dislike bolt-ons. They see them simply as a way for an operator to get more money out of them. And they can’t stand being bombarded with text after text with bolt-on offers. They would rather stop using Facebook, for instance, than buy an extra bundle of data for £5 that would see them through the month. The young exec pays £45 a month and will not, ever, pay for more stuff. In his opinion, £45 a month is quite enough, thank you."