Quite simply What’s Next is Asia and Mobile media. For many people in the Asian region the Mobile screen is the first screen that they ever had that can deliver content.
The population in Asia is now 4.2Billion people with China sitting at 1.3Billion. Why is this important? Well, the Chinese consumer Web is like a parallel and totally closed version of the web in the rest of the world. They’ve got vibrant and powerful local substitutes for every popular web service that the West has. What’s more many Chinese companies have been explicitly mandated to “zou chuqu” (go out), in the words of the declared government policy seeking customers and alliances across Asia.
An example of the potential on offer in China is the huge market that a company like Apple just can’t ignore. Apple’s iPhone 4 launch there in the first quarter of this year brought the company’s phone sales there up by fivefold from a year ago. Revenue in China reached a record $7.9 billion last quarter (yes that was $7.9billion), which is up threefold year-over-year. That brings Apple’s revenues in the country to $12.4 billion for the first half of the fiscal year. That’s nearly what Apple made in all of the last fiscal year when it made $13.3 billion in China. “It is mind-boggling that we can do this well,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook on the last earnings call.
As the recession eases, the shift of global economic activity to Asia is accelerating. This transition had begun well before the collapse, but as recently as 2008 many Western businesses were essentially ignoring it. That is no longer a viable strategy.
Take in to account the fact that retail sales growth has rebounded sharply in Asia. One force driving this turnaround is consumer credit; younger populations in Asia are more amenable to buying on credit than their parents are, (60% of Vietnam’s 86million population are under 30) , and as aspirations and incomes grow, people recognise the value of credit in allowing them to make purchases they would have otherwise put off for years. Levi Strauss & Company has just announced the first consumer credit program for low-ticket items in India, offering jeans on an interest-free, “buy now, pay later” installment plan. In an experiment conducted over two months in company stores in Bangalore, consumers spent 50 percent more than usual when offered an installment option. The number of credit cards issued annually in China, meanwhile, was about 140 million in 2008, and it’s growing more than 50 percent per year.
Australia is also a member of the Asian region and plans are already well underway to transition from print to digital on mobile devices for news content. As the Asian region advances and blooms it will attract foreign investment for infrastructure projects worth billions from the West. This will not only offer high speed transport and cutting edge communication networks yet also education and health services. Most of Asia including China and India will enjoy brand new LTE wireless networks that will be available to almost all the populations simply due to scale (cost spread over many people).
For Asian companies, the conventional strategy of moving abroad by acquiring assets will not work. For Western companies, moving established operations into Asia will be equally fruitless. There’s only one way for both types of companies to succeed: By determining the capabilities they need to drive operations and investing in those exclusively. If companies’ capabilities match their strategic plans, Asia’s growth can provide a powerful counterweight to the worldwide recession — and a platform for global expansion afterward.
A combination of new media the ubiquity of the Mobile phone that is engaging, personal and easy to use and acquire will pave the way for an avalanche of opportunities for any communication company.
It’s time for western digital agencies to “zou chuqu” and engage with strategic partners in the region that we are a member of and offer compelling experiences through innovation in portable media. It’s no longer a case of “build it and they will come” in Asia it is now “build it as they are here”.