What I learned about mobile in China
In China I met several entrepreneurs and others at the Bluetooth World conference there. China has a very different mobile culture, so thought I'd share what I learned here:
1. Facebook and Twitter and many other sites don't work. Neither do their mobile apps. Yes, you can use a VPN or a proxy server, but most sites are very slow compared to when I use those sites in the US. (The government blocks those sites. Most of the entrepreneurs I talked with said the government does that to protect local businesses and their own pocketbooks).
2. Almost every high-end user had an iPhone. Others had Android. I never saw Windows Phone or Blackberry's being used. Android is coming on strong, everyone admits.
3. Every iPhone was jailbroken. Why? Because using the Apple App Store is painful at best and totally unusable at worst. Why? The speed of downloading apps from Apple is horrid. So, everyone makes their phone have a Chinese app store so they can download apps fast. That means Apple will see lower revenue per device than it does in the states, where it can sell movies, music, and apps directly.
4. Every service has a Chinese copy. In the shot I took below there is a YouTube copy. Actually several copies.
5. The Chinese hate the firewall too, but they say it just means you gotta be "entrepreneurial" to get around it. Either by using Chinese copies of services you like, or by using VPNs.
6. There isn't LTE in Shanghai yet. That I thought was totally shocking, given how modern and wealthy the city is. My phones, back in San Francisco, are dramatically faster on videos and things like Waze. Everyone says that LTE finally got approval from the government and should be showing up by the end of the year.
7. There is a strong mobile culture. It felt a lot like San Francisco, with lots of apps for local food, transit, etc. Plus, the people i met with knew exactly how the local apps compared with things like Yelp or OpenTable.
8. Many apps have "offline" features. Baidu maps, for instance, aren't as accurate as Google's maps, but they work offline, which matters because of lack of LTE and also pricing plans that charge you per megabyte downloaded.
9. There are lots of low-cost Android phones and systems coming out. Think about how Facebook's new Home App takes over app launching and you are close to how these new Chinese phones take over your notifications and app screens. They also strip out all Google stuff and add in their own apps and search.
10. Everyone knows how to get their phones customized. You can pay people to root your phones for a few dollars and load you up with the apps you want. This lets people who buy very low-end phones get similar experiences you'll get on more expensive phones.
For those of you who have visited China, or who live there (Google+ was the only social network I could use directly -- the others I used through Flipboard just fine) what other things have you noticed about how Chinese use mobile phones vs. how people in US and Europe use them?