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Growing Chinese mobile internet companies to reshape global digital culture

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-25 16:54

BEIJING - Giorggio Abrantes, a 34-year-old worker who lives in Northeast Brazil, has recently turned into an internet hipster.

His Facebook and YouTube pages have gained tens of thousands of views in just a few days since he published an ingenious invention in a 40-second long video: how to amplify music played by a smartphone using just some pipes and a paper box.

The online tool to create this snappy, eye-opening video story is VivaVideo, one of the few Chinese mobile companies that have already gained a good share of the global mobile market.

Launched in 2013 by some Chinese mobile video experts, this application now has 400 million users globally, and took home the award for the most innovative app on Google Play's "Best of 2016" global list.

"Our app is fast and stable," VivaVideo's President Zhu Binjie told Xinhua. "Many of our users are young and can't afford expensive smartphones. Only the best technology can let them run complicated video-editing quickly without crashing."

Sam Han, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of the company, has worked for more than 10 years at California-headquartered ArcSoftInc, a photo and video imaging software development company. The video computing technology he developed at VivaVideo significantly outperforms similar other mobile apps.

The application also features prominently its face recognition technology and nurtures a lively video-making and sharing community.

"This mobile application has greatly helped my YouTube channel job," said Fawaz, a young man from Saudi Arabia, who has 74,000 subscribers on YouTube.

"I started using VivaVideo about three years ago when video-editing apps were almost non-existent or very poor compared to professional softwares on PC."

"But working on computer is usually slow and expensive," he added. "With VivaVideo, I can edit, montage and publish my videos while I'm at the dental waiting my turn, or when I'm in the metro going to the university, or when I'm drinking my morning coffee, very easily, very proficiently."

Targeting young people around the world, the mobile app hopes to bring every user to the front stage in the virtual world, said Zhu.

Cultural challenges

He called his company essentially "technology-driven," but also stressed the cultural dimension of the business.

"We have to stay humble to every different culture as we go further into the rest of the world," he said. "We also try our best at localization."

Building upon its video creating and editing strengths, the company has opened up online video communities in Southeast Asia and Brazil, and later expanded into Japan the United States.

According to the Beijing-based American venture capitalist Kaifu Lee, who also invested in Vivavideo, overseas market is a difficult business. "You have to get a good grasp of what local people think."

The same idea was echoed by Wang Xiang, senior vice-president of Xiaomi, China's giant electronics company and the world's fifth largest smartphone maker.

"There are many challenges for a start-up to enter overseas markets," he told Xinhua. "You need to hire lots of foreigners who know local culture. You might also have to work with local partners who are more familiar with the local legal, economic and political environment."

A swarm of Chinese technology firms are rapidly expanding overseas as China embarks on its Belt and Road Initiative to reinvigorate the ancient overland and maritime silk roads.

In March, Xiaomi's founder and CEO Lei Jun said he hoped the foreign agencies of the Chinese government could offer more assistance with regard to local policies, tax and legal requirements to further support Chinese firms going abroad.

Zhu from VivaVideo expressed a similar hope. "I hope Chinese embassies overseas can help us find more local talents," he said.

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