The main purpose of my trip to China this time is to talk to potential users and identify their needs. With the help of some friends, I am able to reach them and had some meaningful conversatons and interviews.
Most of these people are from remote provinces. They make handicrafts, pottery, paitings and ethnic goods, and sell at local markets in Beijing. Some of them have to support their families back home in the remote areas such as Yunan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, etc. where average annual income per capita is about $250 or lower – below the poverty line.
Non of them have any channel to market their products except go to the markets on the weekends and give out their business cards.
When asking what they would do if they are successful and have the resources to do what they want, most of them answered to send kids to school, buy or build a house, expand their businesses and travel. While all of them want a better life, women want to send their kids to school while men want to do bigger business.
This is my second time to visit China Mobile, Shanghai. The high rise building with shining glass window on Chang Shou Road certainly reflects the success of its owner. Somehiow, it reminded my of Oracle in the Bay Area.
My meeting with a senior marketing executive turned out to be very fruitful. He appears very knowledgeable and competent. It changed my view for Chinese government owned enterprises – people beating around the bush and do not get to the point. This is one window to see that China is really changing. Here are some interesting learnings from this visit:
- There are two kinds of fees that China Mobile charges: 1) communication fee; 2) service or billing fee. For example, the communication fee for SMS is 0.10 yuan; the service or billing fee is what China Mobile charges for billing for the service providers. It is usually 15%.
- There are more than 1000 service providers in China, and there are hundreds and thousands more service providers at local level. China Mobile is exercising a tight control for giving the licenses for more SPs.
- Although China Mobile is a national corporation, each province has its own autonomy. For example, China Mobile Shanghai can pretty much decide whatever is within its territory – Shanghai area (Shanghai has 8 million mobile users). This gives people an opportunity to work with China Mobile on the local bases.
- Monternet is China Mobile’s portal for value-added services for qualified service providers. It doesn’t provide any service itself.
- Currently, China Mobile has 70% market share, and China Unicom has 30% market share. The competition will become more intensive when 3G licenses are issued to two more companies – China Telecom and China Netcom. What’s interesting is that these two companies do not have mobile user customers at the moment. How they enter the landscape is something worth watching.