Photo courtesy of World Leaks via Flickr.
There’s something in the wind — it’s the powerful scent (or should we say Tencent) of Chinese tech giants on the edge of their markets, poised to expand onto U.S. shores.
By now you’ve heard whispers of e-commerce company Alibaba’s gargantuan IPO and have maybe even used Tencent’s WeChat app, but for the most part, odds are that Google and Apple still reign your personal world of electronics.[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”7IfoTGYSPCjUxacnjtd1jwaZirvVK7HW”]While it’s easy to dismiss the unknown, it’s better to stay tuned what’s happening overseas: in this case, a thriving, and potentially disruptive ecosystem of tech giants as mighty or even mightier than the ones we’re familiar with.
Due to the rapid expansion and escalating value of Chinese companies, the power as we perceive it could be shifting soon.
Here are some of the major players killing it in China, what they do, and how they compare to the (currently) better-known U.S. tech giants.
American counterpart: Ebay, Amazon, etc
After exploding in China, where it dominates eCommerce, Alibaba has outgrown even China and made its way to New York City for public investing, and the launch of a U.S. website called 11main.com. Its $25 billion IPO is the largest in the world.
Specialty: Social media
American counterpart: Facebook, WhatsApp, etc
Founded in 1998, Tencent began with QQ desktop instant messaging service, and has expanded since to include mobile and online games, mobile messaging app WeChat, taxi services, shopping, and investment.
Tencent boasts 650 million users, and is thought to be Alibaba’s biggest threat. With 100 million users outside of China, it may also eventually be eyeing the U.S. market.
American counterpart: Apple
Called “China’s Apple” by some, and having even taken the words “one more thing…” out of Steve Jobs’ mouth, Xiaomi (pronounced Shao-mee, also known as just Mi) is the third largest smartphone maker in the world, and the largest smartphone vendor in China, surpassing Apple and South Korea’s Samsung.
The giant is currently expanding to Indonesia with India up next, and elsewhere once it works out some sticky patent issues. Xiaomi will also be working especially hard to keep China interested in its products over rising competitors.
American counterpart: HP
You may not know it, but Chinese tech company Lenovo is the largest PC maker in the world, ahead of even HP in terms of units sold. Over the years, Lenovo has acquired IBM’s personal computer business as well as its Intel-based server business.
Lenovo’s recent acquisition of Motorola’s smartphone business has also bumped the company up to the third biggest smartphone manufacturer, after Apple and Samsung.
American counterpart: Google
China’s most-used search engine isn’t Google, but Baidu, even though the two were patented around the same time. Baidu’s engine works in compliance with the Chinese government’s strict rules, and with over a billion users, has almost two-thirds of the search market share in China.
Baidu is now eying up other countries, having set up research centers in Singapore, Australia, India, and Brazil. It has also reportedly built a supercomputer for deep learning, and is (like Google) working on a driverless car.
American counterpart: None
The second-largest provider of equipment for telecoms equipment worldwide is Huawei, a Chinese company outsized only by Sweden’s Ericsson. In spite of Western fears of bugged equipment, and the NSA’s fear of foreign, unexploitable electronics, Huawei is fast growing, with sales having doubled in Europe in just the past year.
Huawei also has a robust presence in the Middle East and Africa, along with business in North America, and is stepping up its smartphone game as well, having already sold millions of cellular devices.
Other up and coming Chinese electronics manufacturers include ZTE, Oppo, and Maizu. So I Baidu to wake up and smell the Huawei — it’s stronger than you think.