China's 6 Biggest Moments in Tech in 2015

By THAT'S, December 25, 2015

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This is part of our China's 2015 Year in Review series. For more on 2015 Tech in review, read our interview with Kaiser Kuo on China's biggest tech moments here.

The most exciting thing about technology is how quickly it changes. But that’s also the most frustrating thing about it. You buy a new phone and it is obsolete seconds later. You fall in love with a new app, and then it falls foul of Chinese law. You believe that the latest gadgets will improve your life, and then a self-driving car kidnaps your mother and drives her to Mongolia. It’s time to step back, put away that damn Apple Watch, and take stock of all the recent happenings in the world of Chinese tech. It may feel like you’ve just downloaded 2015 onto your phone, but it’s already bugging you to upgrade to a newer version.

Without further ado, our list of the six biggest updates (and downgrades) in China's tech scene in 2015.

1. Poor Jack Ma (relatively speaking)

Jack Ma, Alibaba founder

Ma started 2015 as China’s richest man. The Alibaba founder Jack Ma was rolling in renminbi – and dollars, after his American IPO. But in October, Ma was ousted from his spot by Wang Jianlin, leaving him with a measly US$19 billion and China’s most successful web company. Poor chap.

2. But is it rose gold?

iPhone rose gold

In 2014, China surpassed the US as the iPhone’s biggest market. So how to follow the success of the iPhone 6? Rose gold, that’s how. The new iPhone 6s sported this elegant color on its metallic back and it outsold its normal-colored counterpart by a hefty three million units in the Mainland. 

3. Uber love for China

Uber in China

Despite not being legal in the strictest sense, Uber is something of a big deal in China. The firm is already doing more than one million rides per day in China, which constitutes 30 percent of its entire business. It works because China has a) tons of cities and B) terrible traffic in said cities. Simple business, really. 

4. Chinese government swipes right on startups

Chinese tech startups

In May, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with a group of tech entrepreneurs in Beijing’s Zhongguancun, or ‘China’s Silicon Valley.’ Then in September, Xi Jinping visited Seattle as executives from Apple, IBM and Facebook joined up with their Chinese counterparts at Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. It was a tech-together like no other.

5. 马克·扎克伯格

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

That’s pronounced “Mǎkè zhā kè bó gé,” and it’s the Chinese name of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He went public with his mandarin skills at Tsinghua University, where he spoke for 20 minutes and even dropped in a few Chinese idioms. The Internet was not as kind, with commentators criticizing his tones.

6. "Apple is Hitler"

Quote of the Year:

That’s at least what Jia Yueting, the billionaire founder and CEO of Chinese video site LeTV seemed to think about the California tech giant. The entrepreneur made the awkward comparison in March, in a poster published on his Weibo page (which has more than five million followers) teasing the launch of LeTV’s new smartphone. The image showed a cartoon Adolf Hitler wearing a red armband with the Apple logo in place of the Nazi swastika. Smooth move. The poster read “Crowdsourced, Freedom vs. Arrogance, Tyranny” and was supposed to illustrate that Apple is stifling innovation and harming the interests of users. After the image drew international attention, Jia issued an apology, replacing the image of Hitler with that of a king. Still, we now know what this guy really thinks. 

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