Tech industry in China

With the country’s continuous efforts of digitalization and the expansion of internet coverage, the technology market in China which includes artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), blockchain, drones, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, 3D printing, and virtual reality (VR) has been shaped for years. More than 95% of China’s internet users, around 772 million people have accessed the web via a mobile device, according to CNNIC. The unique environment cultivates Chinese users’ to be heavily reliant on mobile, which in turn drives the development of online use and its quick adoption.


Daxue Tech utilizes several tech-assisted research methodologies which allow us to have a high volume of tests and obtain clearer and more precise results. Major brands operating in the automotive, e-commerce, F&B industries have come to us for receiving our support in eye-tracking technology, alternative data collection, or virtual reality research, allowing Daxue Consulting to gather greater expertise in the field.


As we know, China has a massive base of smartphone users, those users create large amounts of data which is the fuel that AI technology consumes to develop. China’s artificial intelligence industry is becoming one of the most important markets in the nation. However, the market of AI in China is not mature yet, there is still a large space for development. In 2016, the Chinese government aim to build a domestic AI industry worth nearly $150 billion in the near future. AI is already replacing warehouse workers with robots, operating driverless cars, and may substitute doctors with computers in the future. AI in the manufacturing industry has adopted the practices of Integrated intelligent systems. A large portion of China’s AI market share is from speech, computer vision, and natural language processing technology. China’s high level of AI adoption and citizens’ positive perception towards AI sets it apart from other nations but there is also a great awareness among netizens about the potential threats of AI technology.

The augmented reality (AR) market in China has gone through a period of rapid development for more than 20 years. In 2016, the scale of AR in China was approximately 3.3 billion yuan. It reached 14.5 billion yuan in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 329.2%. In 2020, the market exceeded 118.7 billion yuan. In 2019, from the perspective of global mobile AR applications by industry, retail shopping accounted for 30%, education for 24%, game entertainment for 15%, advertising and marketing for 11%, information display for 7%, industrial manufacturing for 3%, and others for 10%. The key investment areas in the AR in China in 2019 were AR browsers, navigation AR App, and educational AR hardware. In the long run, computer vision technology and automotive head-up display (HUD) will get the biggest investment value and mobile phones in China will also be the key layout objects in the competition on the AR market.

According to insights from Eloi Gerard, the CEO and co-founder of Shanghai-based XR studio CrowsNest shared during an episode of Daxue Talks: “China is good at AR hardware. It can do hardware more efficiently and faster than the Americans”. As AR technology matures, the unit price of AR hardware products will decline.

In a 2018 global blockchain survey, nearly 50%  of the surveyed in China said that blockchain technology was already being used within their organization, compared with only 14% in the United States. In 2019, China has 45% of blockchain projects in the world as Shenzhen and Beijing are leading the way. Effective use of blockchain technology in China could help the country overcome some serious structural challenges that lie on its path to modernization and deliver key services for growth, like a greater capillarization of the financial institutions, which would allow the Chinese digital economy to reach a greater number of people; improvements in investment transparency, which would allow the Chinese tech economy to secure more funding; and even improve governance, thanks to improved communication between grassroots and authorities. The lack of physical infrastructures may encourage the more rapid adoption of blockchain technologies.

In some markets, China already has a dominant position that is hardly contestable, the Chinese giant DJI holds 70% of the market of drones for the general public. Due to their expanding field of application, the demand for drones has gradually increased, it exceeded 13 billion yuan in 2018 and hit 22 billion yuan in 2019, especially with the rise of drone advertising. Consumer drones, commercial drones, and government drones are the major categories driving the growth of the drone industry in China. Drones have exclusive flight rights for Shanghai Bund, Guangzhou Xiaomanyao, Juzizhoutou of Changsha, Hunan, and Xi’an. Drone advertising in China is a proven way to make a brand go viral online, however, how long the trend will last is uncertain. As it becomes more common, the following social media buzz after drone shows may slow down. According to estimations, this emerging market will be worth $12 billion globally by 2025. The current leading position of Chinese companies will probably allow China to keep dominating this industry in a decade.

The Internet of Things or IoT is a prime example of how smart technology in China has developed. The rapid development of digital technology has allowed China to become the leader in technological races such as the race for 5G. IoT has entered almost every business industry and public system. The country will surpass the US to become the world’s largest IoT market in 2024 and its spending on IoT is expected to reach around $300 billion according to IDC report. In 2024, the country’s spending on IoT will account for 26.7% of global spending in the sector, and manufacturing, government, and consumer IoT spending will account for more than half of the total market spending. The country saw disruptions in the IoT market due to COVID-19 and reduced IoT spending across all industries in early 2020. With IoT, companies achieve regulatory compliance and improve cost management. Different from the global trend, hardware continues to account for the largest proportion of China’s Internet of Things market expenditure. The hardware market will continue to grow steadily in the next five years, maintaining a market share of more than 40%.

According to research conducted by Daxue Consulting Chinese government supports matters such as the development of robots with massive investments. The demand for robotic solutions in China is evolving rapidly in the industrial sector. According to IDC, the China robotics market is forecast to reach $103.6 billion in 2023. China buys and builds more industrial robots than any country, but its market is still dominated by Japanese companies, followed by manufacturers from Europe and South Korea. Service robotics holds the largest market share among all segments with a $2.2 billion market share in 2019, 33% higher than the previous year. Domestic cleaning robot is a pioneer of intelligent service robot industrialization. In the long term, with the domestic robot enhancing penetration, its sales will stabilize. The most visible application of AI in food and beverage is the use of robots in restaurants in China. Chinese e-commerce giant announced plans to open 1,000 restaurants by 2020 where food will be prepared and served by robots. The outbreak of the COVID-19 is expected to have a positive spin on the deployment of robots for healthcare. Beijing’s ‘Made in China 2025’ plan set a target for local robot manufacturers to supply half of the domestic market by 2020 and 70% by 2025.

As a big manufacturing country, China had embraced 3D printing with central-government-level supporting policies since 2012, now, 3D printing is already becoming an important industry. The application of 3D printing includes design visualization, prototyping, automotive, architecture, education, geospatial, healthcare, entertainment, retail, and many more. Domestically, the market size is rising at an annual rate of around 40%, with commercial applications in home appliances, construction, orthodontics, and space technologies. 80% of the total market share comes from industrial applications according to Forward Institute. 3D printing users grow fast thanks to its rapid development and acceptable price. Thanks to 3D printing, print-on-demand, and mass customization are possible. The popularization of 3D printing means a higher demand for people producing digital files and China is planning to respond to that need. Currently, the top-rated industrial printer is Union Tech, taking 16.4% of the 3D printer market share. The end-users will be able to manufacture their products on their own, meaning that products wouldn’t be bought from other people or corporations, 3D printing can become mainstream.

China is investing heavily in disruptive innovations that require high technological capabilities, such as virtual reality. With the rapid development of the economy, the VR market in China has a huge potential user group, providing a broad market demand. According to iResearch, they were 1.4 million to use VR devices in 2016. In 2020, the virtual reality market in China is around $8 billion in size. Compared to their US competitors, China can produce quality devices in large quantities for a very competitive price. Hence, a hundred devices are already available on the Chinese market with products by Baofeng Magic Mirror (Baofeng Mojing) and Dëe Poon as best sellers. The main fields of application of virtual reality today is video and game. Covid-19 in China has pushed many people to use VR in ways they hadn’t before. Some Chinese hospitals let doctors put on VR headsets to virtually visit potential Covid-19 patients in isolation wards. VR development in China lets people virtually visit popular tourist attractions. Chinese online tourism is gaining more and more customers during the pandemic.

Bridging the physical and digital is the next step, systems architecture will become a strategic priority as organizations redefine the architect role to be more nimble, responsive, and collaborative. Educational technology in China has not only seen tremendous growth in recent years, with the coronavirus outbreak it could be said that the EdTech sector has been one of the “winners,” seeking opportunities to gain popularity in China. For organizations needing to adapt and respond quickly to ongoing technology disruption, Deloitte expects to see more IT and finance leaders working together to develop new flexible approaches for funding innovation at the speed of Agile. China has the advantages of a massive data pool and a high level of adoption. The areas where China can improve are in talent, hardware, and research quality.

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