The Chinese Government demonstrates willingness to digitalize the educational system: it aims to have the whole K-12 (six-year primary school, three-year middle school, and three-year high school) student population online in the next ten years. This ambition could be achieved thanks to the well-developed Internet infrastructure and the growing mobile learning in China. Within this market, the mobile learning industry is particularly dynamic and offers new opportunities for the market players.
Mobile Learning in China: Bright perspectives for mobile learning in China
Good prospects for the mobile learning industry in China: its growth rate is predicted to reach 51% in 2016. Revenues will more than double by 2020 according to Ambient Insight.
As early as 2012, China was among the top global buyers of mobile learning products and services with the US, Japan, South Korea, and India. Second-largest mobile learning buying country after the US in 2014, China is expected to take the lead in 2017. Indeed, mobile learning is one of the major categories of Internet retail products in China. 200 million Chinese people used Apps to learn in 2014 according to the study “App Market in China” published by Daxue Consulting (Market Entry China) in August 2015. The mobile education market value is predicted to RMB 2,16 billion in 2016 and RMB 3,12 billion in 2017.
Chinese give high priority to education, which may explain the success of mobile learning in the age of digitalization. But above all, the high mobile Internet penetration rate is key to this market according to Daxue’s team. In 2015, there were 688,3 million Internet users in China, outnumbering the US population two to one, and 90,10% of the Chinese netizens had access to the Internet through their mobiles.
The mobile learning in China is buoyant, prosperous, and unique
The mobile education market is vibrant, attractive but highly competitive. The Chinese Internet giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent entered the market in 2013 and 2014, but several other leading Internet companies such as Sohu, Renren, and SinaWeibo also launched dedicated mobile products. These Internet companies are competing with the online education providers that are rapidly turning to mobile formats. However, they target different demographics: the Internet companies focus on the consumer segment where the online education providers target the academic segments according to Daxue’s researches. Startups in this industry have no brand recognition but are profitable for now as the demand is large. Nonetheless, it may be difficult for them to survive in such a complex competitive landscape.
Regarding products, the number of education apps exceeded 70,000 in November 2014, equivalent to 10% of total Apps in China. The top education Apps categories are language learning (29,10% of Apps offer) and K12 (22,30%). English language learning products constitute a significant exception in the market, as big and small c
ompanies are competing to meet the booming demand for digital English language learning. This demand is huge because it is present in every buying segment in China: it was the bestselling product category on Alibaba’s Taobao Classmate, reaching almost 40% of its sales. Another trend unique to China is the high demand for early childhood learning products. In November 2014, 16 of the top 20 best-selling educational Apps in the Windows store and 18 of the top 20 in the Apple store in Mainland China were dedicated to early childhood education. SmarTots that develops mobile learning Apps for young children is one of the most successful educational App developers in China and had over 70 Apps for Chinese preschool children.
Is WeChat the future of mobile learning in China?
Things can change overnight in the mobile learning market, and one evidence of it is the rise of Tencent’s WeChat as a mobile learning delivery platform that happened in less than a year. For example, Miracle Mandarin delivers Chinese language lessons through WeChat, the British Council posts English language learning content on WeChat and Xueda Education distributes their Smart Tutoring System on WeChat too.
Even though WeChat lacks tools such as grade books, quizzes, assignments, and course calendars that traditional learning management systems (LMS) provide, it succeeded where LMS have failed: promoting social interaction. Moreover, it allows teachers to provide tailored courses, taking education to where students already are. With 818 million monthly active users in October 2016, no doubt that WeChat could become a vast and hugely popular online education platform.
Daxue Consulting’s related project: China ICT market analysis
The ICT sector is a booming sector in China. Infrastructure and environment related opportunities for companies have been developing tremendously for the last few years, and many overseas companies are currently looking at expanding to China. Daxue Consulting team was contacted by its client to analyze 10 segments of the China ICT, including software, e-learning, e-government, digital financial services, internet data centers, mobile applications, clouds, security systems, big data and healthcare, before assessing opportunities for our client to enter China.