In­ter­net com­pa­nies fight­ing for on­line users’ lim­ited time

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 11 Comment Editorial • Opinion -

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.

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