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China Digital Digest Weekly: Exploring the Chinese Digital Landscape

Hi folks, we are back with our weekly edition of China’s Digital Digest, wherein we bring you weekly updates on China’s digital space. The report takes a quick glance at China’s complex and rapidly evolving social media landscape by providing updates on the latest happenings across the social media industry. Here are the major highlights of the report.


1. JD.Com Considers Takeover Bid For UK Electronics Retailer Currys



JD.com is considering a bid for UK electronics retailer Currys as China’s e-commerce giants continue to look for overseas growth amid stagnant demand and rising competition at home.



JD.com has said that it is in the very preliminary stages of evaluating a possible transaction that may include a cash offer for the entire issued share capital of Currys. The UK retailer, which operates 823 stores globally with 28,000 staff, has recently rejected a US$883 million bid from US investment firm Elliott.


2. Americans Divided On TikTok Ban Even As Biden Campaign Joins App, Poll Shows



While President Joe Biden’s campaign is embracing TikTok to court younger voters ahead of the presidential elections, US adults have mixed views about whether the video-sharing app should operate in the country.



A new poll by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds a three-way split when it comes to banning the app, with 31 percent of US adults saying they would favor a nationwide ban on TikTok use, while 35 percent say they would oppose that type of action. An additional 31 percent of adults say they neither favor nor oppose a ban on the social media platform. A national ban would likely be highly unpopular among those who use TikTok at least daily: 73 percent say they oppose it.


3. ByteDance Launches “Hippo Learning” App



ByteDance has recently launched the “Hippo Learning” app in the Chinese market, aimed at primary and secondary school students.



The main function of the app is to take photos of questions and get answers, and provide services such as homework, oral calculation, essay correction, and Chinese and English composition and literary appreciation. This represents the company’s exploration of the application of large language models in the field of education.


This is not the first case of ByteDance’s involvement in the education photo search business. In March 2021, the company launched a photo search app called “Lightning Search”, but it is now unavailable in the app market. In January 2022, Gauthmath, an app developed by ByteDance for the overseas market, once rushed into the top ten list in the United States.


4. ByteDance Gathers Multiple Executives to Increase AI R&D



Several departments under ByteDance have increased investment in the research and development of AI products, with results being successively achieved. This includes the Douyin e-commerce department, as well as the Ocean Engine and other business departments.



Among them, the Flow department has taken significant actions by not only launching AI products such as “Dou Bao” and “Coze” but also planning to release an AI character interactive app called “Hualu” and a possible image-related AI product named “PicPic”. According to sources, the monthly active users of “Dou Bao” reached 2 million in December last year. By January 2024, this number doubled. Tech Planet has verified the data with ByteDance, but there has been no response from them yet.


5. Alibaba Bets On Overseas E-Commerce Unit Amid Sluggish Growth in China



Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group is betting on its overseas businesses while domestic consumption growth remains sluggish.



One bright spot in Alibaba’s latest earnings report was its international e-commerce business unit, which posted revenue of 28.5 billion Chinese yuan ($4 billion) in the December quarter, up 44% from a year ago. Meanwhile, revenue from the company’s core e-commerce businesses Taobao and Tmall Group was $18.1 billion, growing only 2% year-over-year. Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group includes platforms like AliExpress, Lazada, Daraz, and Trendyol.


6. Alibaba Stock Falls as Chinese Markets Disappoint on Return From Lunar New Year



Alibaba and many other stocks listed in Hong Kong dropped on 19th February as the mainland Chinese markets reopened following the Lunar New Year holiday period. Investors were disappointed despite some positive signs for the world’s second-largest economy.



Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares slipped 2.1% as the wider Hang Seng Index lost 1.1% in trading. Hong Kong markets reopened in the middle of last week after the closure for the Lunar New Year, but Monday marked the first day back for mainland China, where the Shanghai Composite gained 1.6%. But even that positive performance in Shanghai has been met with muted reaction from investors.


Wrapping Up

The vast and diverse nature of the Chinese Social Media space makes it incredibly challenging to keep a tab on the rapid developments taking place. However, China’s Digital Digest brings you all the latest updates from there to keep you abreast of all the evolving trends.


To delve deeper into the findings of the January report, click here.

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