China: China’s location-based services (LBS) market boasted three to four million active users by the end of the third quarter this year, according to a report from Beijing-based market research firm Analysys International.
According to industry analysts, China is already home of more than 30 LBS companies, many of which are growing at a decent clip.
One of the first companies to enter the market was Jiepang.com. Launched in May, the start-up is connected to major Chinese social networking platforms such as the Renren and microblogging service Sina Weibo and has so far attracted 250,000 users.
While making headway, start-ups like Jiepang have to compete with a number of big players who have decided to enter the market. Those include web portal NetEase, search giant Baidu and Shanda Interactive, the country’s largest online game operator, which last month redesigned its four-month-old subsidiary travel website and gave it a new name—Qieke.com—with an eye to the LBS market.
As has happened in the US, Chinese businesses are trying to take advantage of location-based networks to promote their products. On its debut in May, Jiepang signed a deal with a café chain in Beijing to offer users free coffee the first time they check in at one of the stores. The site has also joined up with more than a thousand group shopping websites to help users enjoy bulk purchase discounts on a variety of goods.
Qieke.com, meanwhile, is cooperating with over 100 brands, including big names like Lenovo, L’Oreal and Starbucks.
Currently, around 18 percent of China’s estimated 800 million mobile users are using smart phones, a number expected to grow at an annual average rate of 35 percent in the coming five years, according to a recent report by IIMEDIA.