Copy to China: Chinese tech clone giants that are stealing the thunder

1st May 2013
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We often hear that Google for the world is the Google for India, Facebook for the world is the Facebook for India and hence we don't need to develop Indian clones. And this is true, but a case in point is China. A completely different landscape, here we look at the Chinese ecosystem which has been very hard for foreign companies to penetrate owing to government control. These Chinese product companies have replicated the established US models and grabbed market share in China. The scale is mind boggling!

Here is a snapshot from Allan Hellawell's keynote at the India Internet Day:


Copy to china

The list with links:

The Chinese Facebook: RenRen

Twitter: Sina Weibo

LinkedIn: Ushi

YouTube: Youku

Google: Baidu

Groupon: Lashou

eBay: TaoBao

Yelp: Dianping

WhatsApp: WeChat

So, where does this stem from? And the Indian comparison

There many more than the above listed companies who have replicated the established models and it is interesting to explore this phenomenon. TechNode gave a reasonable explanation by pointing out that this is the way how Chinese are taught to learn. Follow the teacher, recite books, don't challenge.

"Copying is a form of innovation. The best company’s never just copy, they copy and then localize," said Peng Ong, founder of Match.com. Many believe this art also to be innovation. And it especially useful in China because of the controlled ecosystem. It is much easier for the local entrepreneur to thrive.

Drawing a parallel, the Indian education system has also followed a similar route. And this is why we're probably seeing many clones. If it works in the US, it'll work in India is the mentality but it usually goes wrong because of the first statement in this article (Globally used product is what is used in India too).

Tailoring an existing solution to local problems might be useful but there are enough and deeper local problems in India that need new solutions. But we'll always have clones. They've worked supremely well for China, it remains to be seen how they pan out elsewhere.

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