January 31, 2008

210 million internet users in China

Whilst China's economy steams ahead (11% growth but with the odd hiccup), it's internet community follows closely behind. At the going rate of an additional 8 million users per month (or 131,000 per day), China is due to overtake the US total of 215 million users by the end of January 2008 (today, in fact!). (19 Feb 08 - correction: US still leads with 225 million, who of course spend much more online.

In its latest report, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) claims that the number of users has surged in the last six months from 162 million at the end of June 2007 to 210 million at the end of December 2007. (Is this the 21st Century version of the Great Leap Forward?). Interestingly 40% of this growth (29.17 million) came from what they call "the rural areas". I guess this means that the hinterland is finally catching up. CNNIC also believes that
about 16% of the Chinese population now has access to the Internet, compared with a global average of 19%.

Not surprisingly, given that China now has over 500 million mobile subscribers, mobile access to the internet has skyrocketed 63% from 17 million in June to 50.4 million in December.

Granted, the overall numbers are huge (like all Chinese statistics) but, what is more important is who these people are and what they spend their time doing online? Here's is a thought-provoking summary, extracted from Tangos' recent post on the China Web 2.0

  • 34% of users access from Internet cafes, most of them (74.8%) having high school education or below. Internet cafes are more popular in the rural areas, with 48% of rural users going to internet cafes (网吧).
  • The most popular service is online music: 86.6% of netizens listen to music via their computers, followed by IM (81.4%), online movies (76.9%), online news (73.6%), search (72.4%), online gaming (59.3%) and email (56.5%). If compared with previous report, the usage rates of online music, IM, online movies and online gaming all increased significantly, while the usage rate of online news decrease from 77.3% to 73.6%.
  • 23.5% of users have their own blogs or spaces, that is about 49.35 million bloggers.
  • The fist thing people do online is to chat on IM (39.7%), followed by reading news (20%), playing games (9.3%) and searching (7.4%). Note that a large proportion of Chinese Internet users go online just to chat or play games. In China, instant messaging is much more important than email, especially for users aged under 25.
  • Interestingly, the report said that 48.3% of people trust online news from portal sites, while only 31.4% will trust posts in blogs or BBS (bulletin boards). For BBS, Mobinode just published an excellent post on the Chinese BBS phenomenon.
  • 22.1% of users (46.4 million) purchased online in the last six months. Now, this is a significant figures that any budding ecommerce business should consider. (I wonder how much of this was done via Taobao?)
  • 35.4% users published posts in blogs or BBS.
  • 12.7% people uploaded movies while 10.4% uploaded short video clips.
Here's a chart summarising what Chinese netizens are up to, for the more graphically inclined:

Ditch the GANTT charts, become Agile

Ever wonder why most software development projects get delayed? Perhaps its the way they are managed? According to the proponents of Agile, the time has come to ditch 'ye olde' sequential waterfall approach (see GANTT chart sample below) for a more collaborative and responsive methodology, based on software iterations.

This stuff's not only for software developers but could help any one who is in a project management role. I asked Aaron Farr, co-founder of Jade Tower and a regular attendee of Web Wednesday Hong Kong, to explain the difference in layman's terms:

"Traditionally software has been developed in a "waterfall" approach; that is, there are distinct phases of development such as upfront design, implementation programming, quality testing, and so on. These phases are expected to be done in order and done to completion before starting the next phase.

Agile software development rejects this approach in favor of a more lightweight process focused on doing all of these phases simultaneously over rather short iterations (ranging from a week to a month). So rather than do a big up front design and specification phase, Agile methods propose working on small, incremental features, designing, developing and testing them all within a single iteration. This allows a more "agile" approach to changing specifications and a focus on early productivity and consistent, constant results."

Want more of Aaron's insights? Then visit his blog, Cubicle Muses.

So now that you're ready to embark on a new direction in software development and want to learn from
one of the original signers of the Agile Manifesto, come join the folks at ThoughtWorks who are flying Martin Fowler, well-known author and software architect, into Hong Kong for a casual Question & Answer session starting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday 5th February at Le Rideau Theatre Cafe, 1st Floor, Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Road, SOHO, Central (Tel: 2850 8833). You can either sign up on the Agile Hong Kong website, or confirm your attendance on the Facebook event. If you can't make it, you can also post any questions you may have to their discussion board.

Martin, pictured above, has written some influential software engineering books one Agile methods, object oriented programming, software design patterns and refactoring.
You can read his personal blog here. He is also the chief scientist at ThoughtWorks, a global software consultancy that adheres to Agile methods in their work. (For those Brits amongst you, he is not to be confused with Martin Fowler, a fictional character from the popular UK TV drama, East Enders).

January 28, 2008

FreeRice: feeding hungry minds and bellies

For those who think that online advertising doesn't work, here's a site - FreeRice.com - that puts banner ads to a good cause. Still need convincing? Watch this video.

A simple vocabulary game that donates 20 grams of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for every word definition that you get right. In the first three months, US$213,000 were raised and converted into rice to feed the hungry.

As of 26th January 2008, 16 billion grains of rice had been donated. Visit FreeRice to do your bit. This is a sister site to Poverty.com.

January 25, 2008

Web Wednesday - Social Mixer V9.0

As Chinese New Year is fast upon us and many people will be celebrating the Year of the Olympic Rat, we have moved the next event (Social Mixer V9.0) to Wednesday 13th February.

As per usual practice, the bar opens at 6:30 p.m. - for a free cocktail, don't forget to download the mobile coupon from m.webwednesday.hk and show it at the door - and we will start the interview at around 7 p.m. Venue remains the same at Lotus Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, 37-43 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong.

If you want to come along (entrance is free), please sign up via to the event invite on Facebook.

Our guest on the sofa will be Argha Sen, Head of Marketing and CRM for Toys“R”Us Asia Limited. Li & Fung Retailing brought Toys"R"Us to Hong Kong in 1986 and Argha has been instrumental in expanding the operation across Asia, launching outlets in Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Shanghai, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

We will not only discuss the use of the internet for building a rapport with customers, but also how ToysRus has pioneered the use of in-store digital media - such as web-enabled plasma screens, interactive kiosks, interactive floor displays and concealed speakers - to entice and entertain their audiences.

If you have a question that you'd like to ask Argha but are to shy to do so in person, please post it to our discussion board on the Web Wednesday Group (430 members) on Facebook.

A special thanks to the people and companies that support this event:

  1. Outblaze - social collaboration software (behind the scenes).
  2. Lotus Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge - venue, complimentary cocktail and finger foods.
  3. The HyperFactory - SMS contest, mobile website and coupon download.
  4. Epsilon Interactive - email marketing platform.
  5. Sketchbook - email design.
  6. Asia Digital Marketing Association - official industry endorser.
  7. ToysRus - prize and mystery gift sponsor.
  8. Palava Digital - event organiser & community pioneer.
Looking forward to another memorable evening!

Just Spike It!

Feeling extremely creative? Willing to part with HK$940 (plus late entry fine of HK$170) to prove it? Quick. Submit your work to the Media Spikes 08 Awards before 6pm (Hong Kong time) today. Your work will be judged from Feb 25 to Mar 28 and then winners announced in Bali on April 16. Here's a showreel of last year's winners. And one below (similar but different) that I found on Youtube.

January 22, 2008

Why TurnIn when you can TurnOut?

Finally, a media conglomerate that gets it!

Today, Turner International (the owner of Cartoon Network and CNN) announced that it has teamed up with Outblaze, a global provider of messaging and social collaboration services, to develop a series of online communities for kids and tweens across Asia.

Based out of Hong Kong, the new enterprise (called "TurnOut") will leverage Cartoon Network’s extensive library of popular cartoon characters and the pioneering web expertise of Outblaze to create new forms of branded digital entertainment.

“We're immensely excited to partner with Turner on a project of such potential,” said Yat Siu, CEO of Outblaze. “We will be working on highly recognizable brands like The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10, Mojo Jojo and others to develop new service-rich web destinations enabled for web 2.0, with games, video sharing, and much more.”

Turner International's VP of Business Development, Yew Ming Lau, has the vision to see that “Digital distribution is the future and as an entertainment superbrand, Cartoon Network is committed in developing new and innovative ideas within the ever expanding digital landscape.”

They have ambitious plans in the pipeline, such as entering China with online content, launching massively multi-player online games,turning the digital content into merchandise and developing a range of educational products.

January 21, 2008

Podcast of EditGrid Interview

Thank you to all our members - especially our guest speaker P.K. Chan, CEO of EditGrid - for making the last event (social mixer V8.0) such a charismatic and educational success.

Due to popular demand, we've posted the full, unadulterated interview to our podcast channel on Odeo, where you can enjoy all our past interviews as well.

PK's passion managed to turn the rather mundane subject of spreadsheets into a scintillating topic that captured the audience's attention for over 30 minutes. If you missed the last social mixer or just want to listen to it again, simply press the "play" buttons below. We split the interview into two for ease of listening.

powered by ODEO

powered by ODEO

At the event, PK broke the news that EditGrid had developed a version for Apple's iPhone. That's not all; PK is taking Olympic strides and has recently launched a Facebook application and is inviting you to share his passion and become an EditGrid Fan on Facebook too.

If you who prefer the written word, you can enjoy a partial transcript of the interview, conducted by Napoleon Biggs, below.

January 18, 2008

Ushahidi - Kenyan blog rescue

Ushahidi.com - citizen journalism in its most meaningful form. A google maps mash-up for a good cause - reporting incidents via a blog (pc or mobile postings) in the increasingly dangerous Kenya, the once democratic-envy of Africa. Also helps NGO's understand where is the best place to send food aid in the grief-stricken country.

January 17, 2008

Quamnet relaunches - ad supported

As stock markets were crashing around the region, Quam Group relaunched its bilingual financial portal, Quamnet.com. Following in the steps of many wise online publishers, Quam has changed its revenue model from subscription fees to advertising income.

Old China and Internet Hand, Christopher Justice, was brought in to manage this transition and gave a calm and collected presentation at their launch party on the 49/th floor of the American Club in Central Hong Kong. (Fittingly just above the Hong Kong Stock Exchange!).

Chris explained how the Latin word "quam" means "more than" (or ">" in mathematical terms) and how this helps Quamnet's clients make more money than any one else!

Our intrepid reporter was there on hand to record the presentation. Simply click below to listen.

powered by ODEO

For some valuable insight into market trends for 2008 and some smart advice on where to put your money - not in mainland banks, surprisingly! - listen to the wise words of Henry Chan, Quamnet's Head of Research by clicking on the play button below.

powered by ODEO

January 7, 2008

Share your digital resolutions for 2008

Since starting with a handful of people (literally five) back in June 2007, this community has now reached 380 digerati. Our original goal was simple, bring people in the internet and digital media industries together in a casual and friendly environment.

Now that we have a regular monthly event with over 100 attendees and an active online following, we wanted to share with you our resolutions for 2008:

1. Expand the community.

Web Wednesday provides a great venue for meeting and mixing with people in a casual, friendly atmosphere. In 2007, the community grew from zero to 380 members and the social mixer regularly attracts 100 plus attendees. For 2008, we aim to surpass 1,000 active members.

2. Launch in other Asian cities.

To date, we are in talks with interested parties in Guangzhou, Singapore and Shanghai. Of course, we're open to other cities as well. In fact, we have developed a friendly template, if you're interested.

3. Educate.

There is a desperate need to educate those within (yes, it's true!) and without the industry (no question about it!). For this reason, Palava Digital will be launching digital media training courses this year. Do contact us if you'd like to learn more.

4. Share learnings.

Our guest speakers have generously shared their experience and insights with us. We will continue to invite guests and post their interviews to our blog as podcasts that you can listen to at your own convenience.

The community on Facebook and in the blogosphere is already starting to share useful data but we plan to bring this all together in one central website, where members can share educational videos as well. Outblaze will be helping us to create this interactive online community.

5. Bring in well-known guest speakers.

This will be easier once more cities come on board.

6. Illustrate how easy it is to benefit from digital marketing channels.

In 2007, we successfully tested social networks (Facebook and Xing), mobile channels (website, SMS questionnaires), email (Facebook and normal eDM), blogging and podcasts.

7. Give more value to our sponsors.

A big thank you to Palava Digital, Outblaze, Lotus, HyperFactory, epsilon, ADMA, SCMP and Sketchbook as well as the various individuals (too many to name) who have helped this event take off in 2007.

8. Make money!

We'll find a way that works for the members, the organisers and the sponsors.

Ambitious but worth a try!

Do share your digital new year resolutions with us all, either by commenting below or posting to our discussion board on Facebook.

Social Mixer V8.0 - Wednesday 9th January

Happy 2008 to all! I hope you had a refreshing break and are ready to enjoy another heady year of digital chaos, inspiration and evolution.

This is a polite reminder to invite you to the next social mixer to be held on Wednesday 9th January, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Lotus Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, 37-43 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong.

Our guest speaker will Mr. P.K. Chan, CEO of Team and Concepts Limited, a local Hong Kong software development house that reinvented itself to become an award-winning online spreadsheet service, called "EditGrid". This collaborative web 2.0 tool was launched in April 2006 and has already generated 50,000+ users worldwide.

Apart from it's economic pricing, EditGrid stands out from its competitors, Google Spreadsheets and Zoho, by offering extremely useful functionality such as the ability to pull in data from remote sources in real time. Perhaps the best example of this is a financial spreadsheet, created by a certain Hong Kong-based "War God", that draws data from stock markets in Asia, US and Europe. Remarkably, this mash-up has already generated over one million page views.

EditGrid is on a roll and has recently been a Winner of the Red Herring 100 Asia 2007 Awards as well as one of the five finalists of the Crunchies Best Enterprise Start-up, alongside 37 Signals and Zoho. There is still time for you to support them so go and post your vote here.

Their development team move fast and have already created a beta version for Apple's iPhone.

We will be talking about how to launch, fund and grow a global start-up enterprise. P.K. has also kindly offered three free corporate accounts to our members. Were testing out our mobile website so simply visit "m.webwednesday.hk" on your mobile's web browser in order to sign up.

If you want to come along (entrance is free), please sign up via the Facebook event posting.

A special thanks to the people and companies that support this event:

  1. Palava Digital - event organiser.
  2. Lotus Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge - venue and complimentary cocktail.
  3. The HyperFactory - SMS contest, mobile website and coupon download.
  4. Outblaze - social collaboration software (behind the scenes).
  5. Sketchbook - email design.
  6. Epsilon Interactive - email marketing platform.
  7. Asia Digital Marketing Association - official industry endorser.
  8. EditGrid - contest prizes.