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Tech Entrepreneurs Find Success in Western China

Tech Entrepreneurs Find Success in Western China

China became the world’s fastest growing smart device market in the world in 2012. According to the mobile application services company Flurry, China overtook the US as the world’s largest market for active Android and iOS smartphones and tablets in 2013. Mobile app developers are sprouting up all over China, looking to cash in on this growth. One western Chinese city in particular is taking the lead in establishing a hub of innovative tech companies, seeking to harness the growth potential of the mobile software industry. According to Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Store, three of the top 10 applications in China were developed by Chengdu-based firms. Many start-up companies seeking to join the ranks of those top-ranked developers are settling in Chengdu Tianfu Software Park, a section of Chengdu’s High-Tech Development Zone.

Chengdu-based Pinguo Technology Company’s Camera 360 earned PC World‘s recognition as one of the best products of 2011. Camera 360, which allows users to apply special effects to their photographs, has more than 80 million users and is the most popular photography app in the Android Store for China. Another Chengdu-based app developer, iKamobile, developed China’s most popular app for travel information: Chumener, Chinese for “going on a journey.” The app works off the user’s location to determine information about nearby flights, trains, hotels, restaurants, and other travel information.

“I feel the entrepreneurship buzz again when I return to Chengdu,” said Yang Cunfu, founder and chief executive of mobile game developer Calvi Games. Yang returned to Chengdu after spending several years in Shanghai. His games now have more than four million users in China and he is planning to expand overseas where profit margins are higher.

Business and governments alike recognize the value of capturing Chengdu’s entrepreneurial spirit. GE set up its only foreign-based innovation center in Chengdu for research and development of GE Imagination concepts, and the European Union opened a Project Innovation Center in Chengdu to facilitate opportunities for EU-based companies.

According to the Chengdu Information Office, more than 200 mobile internet firms are now operating in Chengdu. Feeding these companies are the innovative culture and skills cultivated at many of the world’s top technology companies already operating in Tianfu Software Park including Intel, IBM, Cisco, Huawei, and Tencent. Intel makes more than half of its computer chips in Chengdu and two-thirds of the world’s iPads are produced at Foxconn’s facility in the city. The increased demand for microprocessors and other IT components from these established firms has turned Chengdu into the biggest technology hub in western China.

City planners built the Tianfu Software Park several years ago with the future of the national software industry and mobile software applications in mind. “Mobile Internet is the new business card for Chengdu’s high-tech industry, alongside advanced manufacturing and software sectors,” said Tang Jiqiang, a spokesperson for the Chengdu High-Tech Industrial Development Zone. By 2015 software industry revenue is expected to exceed $51 billion.

The innovative workforce, relatively low labor costs, and mature value chains will continue to attract investment from top technology companies. As Chinese mobile Internet users continue to grow, the products of developers like Pinguo and iKamobile will become increasingly relevant.

Copyright (C) 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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