My 'app-y life: Living life inside China's mobile app ecosystem

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 7:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 3:06pm

The growth in the mobile app ecosystem is making life easier for people in China. Here’s how.

Online to Offline commerce, or O2O, is one of the buzziest words in China right now. Simply put, O2O bridges the online and offline worlds, and with a simple click on your smartphone you are able to get something without having trudge all the way to a physical location.

According to iResearch, the O2O “local service” segment only accounted for 4.4 per cent of the entire internet business in 2014. While the size of the O2O local service market is not quite there yet, the market is expected to grow exponentially.

A recently released report by Analysys International indicates that the market scale of “life service O2O” business reached 248 billion yuan in 2014, up by a whopping 78.4 per cent from the year before. The report also estimated that life service O2O business will expand to over 400 billion yuan by the end of 2015. Hence, if 2014 was a year during which the cash-rich market players were busy training their muscles, then 2015 is when the real battle begins.

Competition in the O2O sector is extremely intense, but at the end of the day the user wins. With more and more mobile apps springing up every day, the user’s life is getting easier. Mobile apps in China have created a bubble in which people can get whatever they need without even stepping out of the comforts of their home.

So how convenient can your life be if you simply live off your mobile apps? Very very 'appy.

Let’s take a basic human need: food. Food delivery is by no means a new concept but O2O takes it one step further giving you the ability to 'order' a private chef. Apps like Hao Chu Shi (which means “good chef”) will send you, not only the food, but also a private chef starting at 79 yuan. Other apps such as eJiajie, Ayilaile, Helijia, etc., will get your house cleaned, find you a trustworthy babysitter, or get you relaxing massage or a manicure in the comfort of your home. For those who are too busy to walk out of the door, there also are apps that get your errands done.

This article has been reproduced with permission from CKGSB Knowledge, the online research journal of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), China's leading independent business school. For more articles on China business strategy, please visit CKGSB Knowledge.