(above: Beijing news stand, June 2011)
If you read Monday's China Daily business section, you probably noticed three bold headlines:
Swap out “Weibo” for “Twitter”, and these might be stories you’d see on any given day in Western publications like the Wall Street Journal, AllThingsD, or the Financial Times. Still, there’s a particular significance to these stories because of the global importance of the Chinese economy, the staggering number of Internet users in China, and the unique online culture here.
HP underscored its commitment to China this week with a series of investments in cloud computing, R&D, and social media, including the launch of the China HP Official blog, a blog on Sina.com, and a new Sina Weibo microblog.
After three days of traveling through China and meeting with customers, media, and government officials, HP held a press conference in Beijing with our senior leadership team, where CEO Léo Apotheker announced this new program to the media and made clear HP's intentions to drive more effective two-way communication with the Chinese market.
After months of hard work from a team spread across three continents, we’re happy to be live to the public, engaging with commenters, and sharing stories about China HP and the great people who work there.
We’re thrilled to use these new channels to communicate -- in Chinese, of course -- more directly to more people, but it’s the opportunity to engage on a personal level that is most exciting. This holds true for us all across the world, but there is something unique about the energy of Chinese Internet users that makes it special.
Most people in the U.S. have already experienced two “waves” of innovation in Internet technologies: the initial thrill of dial up connections, web browsing, and email during the 1990’s, and then the transition to the so-called “social web” over the last 8-10 years. As of June 2010, the overwhelming majority of Americans are Internet users (about 77%, or 239 million people out of a total population of 310 million).
In contrast, Internet penetration in China is relatively low (31.8% of the total population is online as of June 2010, an increase of 2.9% from 2009 [PDF]) but in absolute numbers, that’s 420 million people – over 100 million more than the entire population of the United States. There’s also a seemingly insatiable appetite for social networking and self-publishing; Weibo alone reports over 140 million users as of May.
Combined, these two trends have driven explosive growth – not only in the diversity of content being shared online, but in opportunities for Chinese social media users to apply these technologies to build a healthier society and more prosperous economy.
Look no further than the above-referenced China Daily article for evidence (the story documents how a university professor used her microblog to crowdsource financing for a rural road-building project).
The lesson learned: it's not the tools or technology that matters, it's what you do with them. As always, let us know what you think of what we're doing, and please do drop by our new China HP pages and take a look around. Even if you don't speak the language, it's worth checking out.
For more information
China HP Official Blog: www.hp.com/go/chinahpblog
HP Sina blog: blog.sina.com.cn/hpchina
HP Sina Weibo: www.weibo.com/hpchina