How’s this for a clash of values? Sharks are popular in the west. Shark fin soup is popular in China. Sharks need to be killed to get the fins for the soup. Alibaba hosts plenty of sellers of shark fins. Guess what some westerners think of that?
He talks about Baidu, why Google’s not doing well, online payment, what the Chinese online market is like and even a bit about Alibaba.
Online software, with its low start up costs and more varied platforms, should be quite succesful in China. So guess who’s offering free online software. Alibaba!
No rant on core competencies.
In the confusing soap opera of Chinese big internet players its hard to remember who’s with who. Essentially if they’re Chinese they hate Baidu so ally with Google, and if they’re American they hate Google so tie up with Baidu, and if they’re Alibaba and Yahoo they like each other and everyone else tried to take a pop.
So here’s ebay, which like Microsoft doesn’t like Google so likes Baidu, is taking on Alibaba with a Business to Business site. I suppose at least they’re in their core competency which seems to be rather unfavourable in Chinese internet search at the moment.
The good news is that they are going in with an escrow system, rather than just credit cards – which are quite restricted in China. If a cheap, widely accepted and trusted escrow system comes in then we think that China will suddenly become a far easier nut to crack.
Is Alibaba becoming all things to all men, and does that mean that it’s losing its focus? Supplying loans to small Chinese businesses. All very good for the IPO, but is it good for the advertisers?
I tend to avoid Stock Market news as there are plenty of people who can talk about Baidu or Google’s P/E ratio better than I could – so I like to talk about the news that affects advertisers rather than investors. However this post on the Alibaba floatation from web pro news points to changes in Yahoo China, although whether or not it will make it a fearsome competitor once again is far less clear.
One of the biggest problems with Chinese e-commerce for the West has been the scarcity of a trusted online payment system. The Chinese do not have a great amount of time for credit cards, prefering cash. This is obviously a problem for any ecommerce that does not involve some face to face contact.
Alipay should be an interesting experiment. Although focussed on China at the moment, Alibaba made its money through linking up Chinese manufacturers to the West. There’s no reason to think that they won’t go the other way.