THE top tech giants of China: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, otherwise known as B.A.T., have been going head to head since the three companies sprung up in the late 90s. The startling growth of these mega firms likely have fierce competition among its peers to thank.
Tencent in particular, is the clear winner in terms of active users in its home market. As reported by Bloomberg, its dominance in the Chinese mobile apps space has won over 80 percent of China’s Internet population, all heavy WeChat users. Second in line is Tencent’s QQ, with Alibaba’s Taobao rounding out the top three. Baidu’s app and Alipay, Alibaba’s digital payments service for its online sites, was in fourth and fifth place.
BAT — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — lord over China's (walled-off) internet sector. https://t.co/ZqxYQsd3P5
— Edwin Chan (@edwininla) January 22, 2017
Based on our coverage, it seems that B.A.T. are each employing a number of strategies when it comes to winning over China’s Internet users and in the same vein, achieve global domination. Alibaba and Tencent appear to both be using acquisitions to reach new markets. While Tencent recently acquired its Thailand equivalent, Sanook Online; Alibaba has gone on a shopping spree by buying up companies in a number of markets and sectors.
Meanwhile, Baidu has taken a varied approach to growth. It has ramped up R&D efforts in artificial intelligence and has also joined the self-driving technology race by running autonomous vehicle trials in Wuzen, China. It is also not above poaching high-profile tech talent from a rival, as it very recently brought on a former top executive from Microsoft, Qi Lu, as its new group president and COO.
Despite operating in different spaces, search and AI, e-commerce and messaging services respectively, BAT dominates China’s Internet industry – in a country where global tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter have been blocked. China’s Internet industry has exploded over the years, reaching 731 million as of recent update, with mobile Internet access growing 12 percent to 695 million.
Whether it’s via aggressive acquisitions, talent poaching and joining the global AI development race – BAT sees big opportunities, not just within its home market, but around the globe and it appears they’ll stop at nothing to win it all.