Chinese want 'culture apps'

18 May 2011

SHANGHAI: Young Chinese "digital natives" want to purchase mobile apps that reflect traditional culture and can be used on PCs, a new report has shown.

MEC China, which conducted a poll of mobile web-connected youngsters born after 1990 for its report, found strong support for digital products that appealed to users' patriotism.

The findings were based on a survey conducted by the agency among 110 students attending university in Shanghai. Participants were asked to imagine what kind of apps they wanted the most "to meet the needs of their lives".

"While public opinion holds that Digital Natives have broken away from Chinese traditional culture, the findings from this research show the opposite," the report claimed.

"Digital Natives crave Chinese tradition, but they want it delivered to them in different ways."

An example of this kind of cultural app cited in the report was a product that allowed users to practice their calligraphy on their mobile's touchscreen.

Other popular features for consumers' ideal apps would include the capacity to "cross over" seamlessly to larger screens - such as tablet and laptop PCs.

Companies currently developing apps were also advised to be "in control enough to let go" - allowing users to break up, rework and share branded content.

Commenting on the report, Theresa Loo, strategic planning, analytics and insight director at MEC China, said: "Digital Natives are the vanguards of the mobile phone apps revolution and their needs and wants are going to define the future development of apps.

"We believe this research can assist marketers to better understand Digital Natives' behaviour, and apply these findings into creating and using better apps in their communication strategies."

Recent figures from China Mobile highlight the growing popularity of the mobile web in the world's most-populous nation.

The mobile operator's subscriber base grew 11.8% to reach 584m in December 2010, while mobile web traffic exploded from 48.6bn megabytes in 2009 to 103.1bn megabytes in 2010.

Meanwhile, Nielsen figures from October 2010 show that 37% of Chinese wireless web subscribers regularly use the mobile internet. In the US, this total was just 27%.

Data sourced from MEC China/Warc; additional content by Warc staff