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Digital Dragon

»By 2012, China will emerge as the world’s largest PC market overtaking USA. The PC market is shrinking in the West as consumers are switching to ‘post-pc devices’. Nevertheless, the projection is yet another indication of the growing digital clout of the Dragon.  The number of internet users in China will soon be double the size of USA’s total population.

Will the rise of Digital Dragon alter the balance of power in Cyber space, which is at present led by USA?  Despite rising protectionism, the US economy is still open relatively and doors have not been shut on immigration. The innovation culture remains vibrant; most of the companies that matter, from Apple to Zynga, have come from that country.

There is a healthy debate and consequent action to keep the net open and protect privacy.   In the short run, a Chinese challenge to the US leadership is not in sight. It is light years away from transforming into an innovation hub that throws up globally game-changing products periodically.

Many top Chinese websites are merely local copies of social media sites such as Twitter. The Chinese government is more interested in finding ways to censor the net. Perhaps the only area where China has made waves is in hacking. China-based criminals sometimes with alleged official blessing have targeted governments around the world.

Inevitable comparisons are also made with India, which has around 80 million internet users, according to estimates. While it is way behind in embracing Internet, mobile is the space to watch.

India has 850 million mobile users and 30 per cent of them are those with multiple or defunct connections. China has nearly a billion users and nobody knows how many of them are junk. By 2013, the number of Indian mobile users may surpass the Chinese. More exciting is the dog-eat-dog private sector telecom play, India has stumbled upon.

Ignoring the scams, let us say the Indian business model, which has relentlessly driven down tariff and is now salivating on value added services, is finding adoption in many other poor countries.

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