Do you remember the early mobile phones, those huge bricks that could barely be considered ‘mobile’ and functioned equally well as a self-defense weapon? How about the days when everybody had a trusty Nokia, which lasted forever but could do little more than make calls and send texts? True, it also had the incredibly addictive game Snake, but that hardly compares to the colorful world of Angry Birds.
It really hasn’t been that long since cellular technology became a commercial industry, yet the strides made in design and functionality have been almost as astonishing as the evolution of the Internet. Rather than the limited capabilities of a traditional phone, today we can shop for clothes, buy movie tickets and make dinner reservations while chatting hands-free to a friend via Skype.
Nowhere are the implications of these advancements greater than in China. With more mobile users than anywhere else in the world – three-quarters of whom possess smartphones – the value of the Middle Kingdom’s m-commerce is predicted to hit USD450 billion by next year. To put that figure in perspective, it is approximately equal to Singapore’s current GDP. Numerous companies and individuals are seeking to tap into the market, from starting boutique online shops to setting up systems that can provide loans via your cell, and let’s not forget the actual business of making the phones.
This issue, we picked up our Apples and Xiaomis to call some of the tech insiders right at the heart of the boom, in order to discover how m-commerce is revolutionizing the nation (see p34).
Staying with the Internet, we’ve also been taking a look at how online literature has gone from a rather niche, unprofitable hobby to a million-dollar profession – at least for the lucky few. Some of today’s most famous and respected Chinese authors first made their mark on the burgeoning web, leading the way in translating self-published stories into substantial royalties (p16).
On the fashion side, we dissect what this year’s Met Ball tells us about the state of Chinese couture (p22), while over in sport we investigate whether the future of snooker is in the hands of the PRC (p12).
Interviews with musical actors, TV stars and up-and-coming rockers are also inside, as well as a guide to flying your pets back home (p42).
Have a wonderful summer, PRD!