Chinese companies are going global, but they would rather take on developing countries. Those are not always the easiest markets, tells Kaiser Kuo, communication director of the country’s largest search engine Baidu in CKGSB Knowledge.
Some companies also say they their experience in China gives them a better feel for what consumers in developing countries are looking for.
“We’ve gotten really good at developing technologies and products that are appropriate for [emerging] markets,” says Kaiser Kuo, director of international communications at Baidu. The internet search giant is currently making forays into Egypt (where it can access users across much of the Arabic-speaking Middle East), Southeast Asia and Brazil.
These are early days, but the company is optimistic about its prospects in emerging markets. Unlike Baidu’s ill-fated venture into the Japanese market, where it met stiff competition from Google and Yahoo! Japan, there are few dominant players in developing countries, says Jennifer Li, Baidu’s CFO. Perhaps even more importantly, she argues that Baidu’s experience with Chinese users in rural and less developed areas has helped it learn how to cater to less sophisticated consumers.
“The beautiful thing is people who are from less developed, less sophisticated markets, they actually expect more of technology, so it is actually a spur to innovation,” says Kuo. He cites the example of rural Chinese users who are unfamiliar with traditional smartphone inputs. To better serve these users, Baidu has ramped up investment in voice-enabled inputs and application activation–a technology that could transfer well into other developing countries.
“It doesn’t require us to make a ‘dumbed-down’ version–quite the opposite, in fact,” he said. “We actually make smarter products.”
The China Weekly Hangout discussed at the end of 2012 the global aspirations of China’s internet companies. Fons Tuinstra, president of the China Speakers Bureau, was joined by Steven Millward of Tech in Asia.
- SM Global Report: China’s Kaiser Kuo (redcouch.typepad.com)
- Life and music in Beijing – Kaiser Kuo (chinaherald.net)
- For Baidu, the Search Game Is Getting Harder (businessweek.com)
- China’s Baidu Pushes Into Africa and Middle East With New Mobile Browser (techinasia.com)