Internet companies fighting for online users’ limited time
TENCENT AND TOUTIAO, two Chinese internet giants, reportedly took each other to court on Friday, claiming unfair competition. Both asked each other to apologize and provide compensation. Beijing News comments:
Weeks before the two companies made it to the court, they had already been arguing with each other. Toutiao claimed that Tencent “blocked” legal links to its news on WeChat, a popular social software developed by Tencent, while Tencent said Toutiao “distorted” official reports to taint Tencent’s image.
Their conflict is deeply rooted in competition for users’ time, or, in a newly invented term, competition for the Gross National Time.
The concept of GNT refers to the total time all internet users spend on browsing websites and using mobile applications every year. For years, the GNT of China has remained constant while the total information released on the internet has doubled every three years.
Therefore, it is fair to say all internet companies are competing for limited time. Every time a new internet product emerges, challenges will be posed to previous ones. The more successful a new internet product is, the heavier the loss suffered by previous internet products.
Both Tencent and Toutiao have successfully obtained a share of GNT. By successfully attracting eyeballs, they have made profits by selling other products as well as renting their platforms for commercial advertisements.
Before Toutiao, Alibaba competed with Tencent, but Alibaba concentrates more on online shopping while Tencent’s main business is social media and entertainment. This time, Toutiao’s applications have social functions, too, which means the two companies are in direct competition with each other.
The market welcomes fair, legal competition, and there is no need to guess which side will win. But we hope the competition will not come at the cost of users. Moreover, let’s hope the two companies will improve their products to better serve users in the competition.