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Chinese companies are uniquely innovative

Updated: May 11,2015 11:07 AM

Chinese companies are making headlines now in things we can easily recognize. Lenovo’s Horizon table PC… thing is making waves, and their Yoga tablet and laptops have also been well-received for a cool design and good performance. But what’s less obvious is that the companies who succeeded in the unique conditions of the Chinese market have innovated in directions Western companies haven’t; pricing and distribution, exactly the things that seem to be drawing resources away from technology-driven development.

Xiaomi’s high level Mi3 is selling at impressively low prices for what it offers, and their flash-sale strategies mean that demand and sales remains high. In addition, these flash-sales provide instant and valuable data about what products do well with end-users. They’ve also cleverly side-stepped the mess that is China’s distribution network by only selling online, and directly from their website.

Tencent is dominating social commerce, a phrase a lot of Western companies aren’t even familiar with. In a country where 75% of internet users are doing so via smartphone, they’ve allowed consumers to rate ecommerce vendors using the same tools they use to pay for bills, order taxis, book restaurants, browse the internet and chat with friends. There’s no equivalent app in the West, and Tencent did it by approaching innovation from its own unique perspective.

Comparisons will continue to be made between Xiaomi’s Lei Jun or Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Steve Jobs, but China’s going to continue developing and growing in fields that most Western companies are woefully behind. Who knows, maybe the West will end up copying China.

-- Thibaud Andre

French consultant at Daxue Consulting,

The comment was published on, August 29, 2014