Can marketers rescue China's mobile web? Insights from GMIC 2012

David Wolf

While the casual observer might find something audacious in a 'global' conference being held in Beijing (with Mandarin as the primary language of delivery, no less), the numbers and momentum suggest that Beijing is at least as deserving of the title 'Capital of the Mobile Internet' as Silicon Valley, Seoul, or Espoo. China has now officially more than one billion mobile subscriber accounts; it is home to two of the ten largest mobile networks in the world (including China Mobile, the largest); and the vast majority of mobile handsets sold in the world today are manufactured in China.

What made the 2012 Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing significant is that, in contrast with Barcelona's mammoth Mobile World Congress, the two traditionally most important sets of companies in the industry – the carriers and the handset manufacturers – seemed to fade into the background. They were not absent: Samsung had an exhibit, Nokia hosted a side-session, and both Motorola and HTC had executives speaking at the event. But Apple was invisible, and the carriers were nearly so.