Emerging Internet Nations

Emerging Internet Nations

William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, IIC Conference, 10 October 2013

Centre of gravity of Internet world has changes to Asia – now 45% of world Internet users (30% in 2002); North America now 15% of world Internet users (37% in 2002)
Most dramatic changes in the Internet are now social rather than technological
Report with World Economic Forum, The New Internet World (2011)
– convergence of values around freedom of expression, privacy etc. – users in newly adopting nations more innovative in patterns of use e.g. social networking – freedom of expression more valued in the new Internet world
2012 update – where does China sit in the new Internet world?
Three levels of findings:
Global: Internet trust bubble? – support for freedom of expression but concerns over privacy and lack of trust in online information; many reluctant to speak freely online (NB: this is a pre-PRISM survey)
Emerging nations: centres of online dynamism
China – centrality of entertainment, commerce and information (far greater uses of Internet for such purposes than the US)
The Internet has become an increasingly vital platform of economic growth in emerging nations
Can this commercial/entertainment focus in China be harnessed to civic engagement?

Julian Zheren Ma, Corporate Vice-President, Strategy and Development, Tencent (China)

Internet in China: Impacts and Prospects

By far the world’s largest Internet users now, but still only 44% of population – therefore considerable growth still likely
In China, local players dominate the market e.g. Baidu 72% of search; Qihoo 15%; Sogou 12%
Dominance of Chinese providers in Chinese market is not because governments censor the Internet, but because they respond more rapidly to local opportunities than overseas companies – Microsoft and Paypal overtaken in SNS and e-commerce markets by Chinese competitors
Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu among the world’s biggest Internet companies – Tencent almost as big as Amazon and Facebook in terms of market capitalisation
Mobile Internet is disrupting PC Internet – needs to be easy-to-use
Wechat has 100m + users outside of China and is used in 100 + countries for instant messaging
China has very powerful online-only brands
Government may hate social networks, but that is the way of life in China today – has empowered the less powerful in society to express their own opinions – is accentuated by mobile Internet as smart phones are so cheap and easy to use
Government regulation lags behind industry development, and government is trying to censor the Internet – no laws of data protection – clash between OTT services and traditional telcos
Internet likely to be an international leader in mobile Internet and Internet of Things – QQ/Wechat numbers being used as IDs instead of names
Can promote greater social transparency and economic efficiency

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About Terry Flew

I am Professor of Media and Communication in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. I am the author of New Media: An Introduction, the fourth edition of which was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. I am also the author of Understanding Global Media, published by Palgrave in 2007, and The Creative Industries, Culture and Policy, published by Sage in 2012.