Opportunities of scale

Posted on November 15, 2012 Tags: travel, china

We tend to forget how huge China is. Yeah, China is big and there are many Chinese. But how many Chinese there are, just needs a reminder from time to time.

According to Wolfram Alpha, the population of china was estimated to be 1.3 billion in 2010. That is easily more, than the population of the EU and the USA combined.

This has a some peculiar consequences. For once, there are quite a few multi-million citizen cities, you’ve likely never heard of before. Would you know, where to search for Zhoukou or Linyi on the map? They both have a population of around 10 Million - give or take.

Another interesting consequence, there are a lots of hugely popular services and companies, that you have also probably never heard of - some of them more interesting than others.

The Twitter equivalent of China for example is Sina Weibo. While being mostly unknown in the western world, Weibo is about the same size as Twitter. According to the wikipedia, Twitter has currently about 500 million users and generates about 340 million messages a day. The 3 year old Weibo currently has about 368 million users and generates 100 million messages a day - not as much but the same order of magnitude (source and source).

Just as Weibo is quite similar to Twitter, there are many other china-only competitors to the services, we know. Yesterday, we used a very neat one. The site is called 360buy.com (Strangely, many of the Chinese alternatives use .com instead of .cn TLDs). From the looks of it, they appear to be a competitor to amazon. Yet, 360buy has a cool feature: In many areas, including Beijing, they offer same-day-delivery. For free. Just like that.

We decided, we needed to get a cheep DVD player for the TV in our apartment. We went to 360buy, used Chrome to translate the page, chose a device, entered our address and clicked on order. This was around 9:00 am. The same day at around 5:00 pm, it knocked on the door. We payed in cash and got our DVD player.

The whole experience was fast, friendly and due to Chromes page translate-feature, even possible for lazy aliens, that don’t speak Chinese.

Part of me wants that from amazon (in Germany)!