Digital ecosystems: the boom in emerging countries

Digital ecosystems

New technologies have become an engine of economic development for emerging powers. In India, China and Russia, the emergence of a fertile digital ecosystem is a generator of wealth. At the heart of this proliferation: ever more mobile Internet access and growing consumption of video games.

Mobile as an agent of transformation

Smartphones have revolutionized the practices of Internet users. Access to the web on mobile exceeded that of fixed computers in 2013. The GSMA, an international association of telephone operators, recorded, in January 2018, nearly 8.5 billion mobile connections. And this figure is expected to increase further. In developing countries, the arrival of new users.Thanks to the regular fall in the price of smartphones. And the increase in income is now done via mobile.

A digital market boosted by socio-economic changes

In emerging countries, having a mobile means having access to a personal and functional address. An explosion of online services is therefore foreseeable. The high-tech companies that are developing in these markets are betting on a combination of parameters: the growth of the economy, the development of the mobile market and the gradual emergence of young and urban middle classes.

China, the new digital giant

In China, the development of the digital economy is a major focus of public policies (information and communication technologies, then the Internet and now artificial intelligence), which often translates into support (not necessarily direct) of local players to the detriment of some of their international competitors. This protected market has enabled this emerging power to develop its own digital ecosystem based on video games. Since 2015, it has been the world’s leading market in this area, ahead of the United States.

One of the spearheads of this breakthrough is online social networking and entertainment company Tencent. In 2013, it became the world’s leading video game platform. In 2017, it was one of China’s leading technology companies and the world’s fourth largest capitalization ($ 550 billion), ahead of Facebook. Tencent is the first Asian company to reach such a level. And she doesn’t seem ready to stop there. In 2020, it achieved a turnover of 65 billion euros, an increase of almost 28% compared to 2019.

Founded in November 1998, Tencent became known through its two successful messengers QQ and WeChat. The web portal then knew how to capitalize on its games, take the mobile turn at the right time, while focusing on improving the player experience and continuing to develop its platforms.

India, a power in the making

In India, the mobile games market really took off in 2010 with the democratization of smartphones. Its progress will continue with the arrival of 4G, accessible in particular through offers from the telecommunications company Reliance JIO. The strong growth of the economy has generated a strong demand for leisure services. 4G has notably caused an explosion in video streaming and has led to the emergence of new entertainment players. Hotstar has taken advantage of the size of the Indian market and is already PAN India meaning spread across India and is trying to become one of the most widely used streaming applications in the world. 

But India’s digital ecosystem is different from China’s. The media landscape is highly developed: film production is massive (the first in the world, nearly 2,000 in 2014) and the press extremely active.

In India there are quite a few big game companies, including Reliance Games, a subsidiary of Reliance Entertainment, but there is nothing quite like what can be found at Tencent in China. At issue: different consumption habits. The low propensity of Indians to pay on the Internet makes it difficult to monetize games. But the strategy on different fronts of a company like Reliance (terminals and networks with Jio, games and media with other subsidiaries) indicates that the Indian industry has become aware of these issues and is working to find solutions for the development of the digital ecosystem.

Russia, a chaotic progression

Far from the Western media sphere, Russia is weaving its web around the audiovisual sector (including video on demand), music and video games. The growth of the information and communication technologies (ICT) market, of which mobile telecommunications is the most important segment, is however less linear than for the Chinese and Indian markets. However, the country is showing signs of stabilization and the sector is gradually gaining income.

The number of application developers is currently growing very strongly. And most of the revenue from the applications created comes from mobile video games which alone provide 97% of digital content in the country. Globally, Russia today occupies the 11 th place in terms of revenue generated by online games.

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