It has been over 2,5 years since Alibaba launched its ‘enterprise app’ Ding Ding (钉钉). In February of 2015, websites such as TechCrunch and TechinAsia described the app as a new mobile and desktop program for businesses that aimed to compete with Tencent’s WeChat – China’s top messaging app.
At the time, Ding Ding (also known as DingTalk) was only available in Chinese. But the app, now updated to the 3.5.3 version, has become readily available in English on Chinese app stores, Google Play, and Apple stores.
Its use by companies across China is picking up. The app has now been downloaded 50.5 million times on the Huawei store, 27 million times on the Tencent app store, 20+ million times on the Oppo app store, 12 million times on the Baidu app store, and 8.5 million times on the 360 Mobile Assistant app store.
Smart mobile office
More companies across China are now using the app as a ‘smart mobile office’: it functions as a messaging app among colleagues, a tool for making conference calls, but more importantly, as a program that makes it easy for employees to clock in and out of work and for employers to check their whereabouts.
“Our company just started implementing it. Nobody gave us any warning,” an employee named Bryan Lee (alias) of a middle-sized Beijing educational company told What’s on Weibo this week: “I’ve spoken to many people of other companies here who also started to use it recently.”
Ding Ding has many functions, and in some ways is meant to replace WeChat as a work tool. The app allows users to create team groups, and also functions as an address book that shows the organizational structure of the company. Users can directly contact the HR group or other colleagues through Ding Ding.
According to Alibaba, ‘DingTalk’ is a “multi-sided platform” that “empowers small and medium-sized business to communicate effectively.” The app’s functions include, amongst others, the following features:
– Ding Ding is a global address book that allows users to view the organization’s structure in a glance and contact everyone, but also shows contacts outside of the company (suppliers, business partners, etc.) and functions as a customer information management system.
– The program is also a calendar for creating tasks and meetings.
– Ding Ding is an instant messaging app designed for office use, supporting both private and group chats and supporting file transfers. To improve communication efficiency, all types of messaging display read/unread statuses.
– The app’s ‘Ding It’ function makes sure recipients never miss a message by alerting them through phone, SMS, or in-app notification. Companies can also send out a voice message or hold a conference call to make sure their message is heard.
– The Secret Chat function works like SnapChat, making messages traceless and self-deleting for ultimate privacy and protection.
– Through its Smart Attendance System companies can keep track of employee’s attendance and overtime records; employees can clock-in and out of work in an instant. The software also automatically generates attendance reports.
– Ding Ding can process approvals by electronically dealing with request for leaves, business trips or reimbursements. Approvals for business trips and leave are automatically linked with attendance records.
– DingTalk is also a high-definition video conferencing system and allows users to also start free individual calls.
– Ding Ding has its own business cloud (or “Ding drive”) feature, making file saving and sharing a quick and easy task, also between PC and mobile.
– DingTalk’s email inbox also makes it possible to receive email notifications in chats.
Despite the myriad of functions, or actually because of them, some employees call the app a ‘catastrophe’ for office staff.
Big boss is watching you
“Since Ding Ding is GPS-activated, I will be signed in when I get to work. And when I leave work, it will clock me out,” Lee says.
The app’s clocking system is one of its most used functions and allows companies to track whether their employees arrive late at work or whether they are working overtime.
There is a positive side to it for employees since there is much less paperwork to fill out when, for example, asking compensation for overtime work. Lee notes that people can also electronically apply for a leave of absence through Ding Ding.
But the downside is that there is no room for white lies anymore. Because of the app’s geotagging function, the employer can actually check if you really are seeing the doctor (as you said you were going to).
“Through Ding Ding you can report where you are for your company. If you requested a leave of absence to go to the hospital, for example, you can bookmark the location so that your company knows you really are at the location where you are supposed to be. Same goes for business-related appointments – if your company requires it, you tag the location so they can see that you are where you said you were going, so they won’t deduct your salary for that.”
“People have a lot of different views on it,” Lee says: “I am always at work when I need to be and I never cheat the system. So I think it is very convenient that I no longer need to take my phone and scan a QR code every day to log in to work, which used to be mafan [trouble] – this is much easier. But a lot of people think it is somewhat Orwellian. They do not monitor your everyday moves but if you actually go drinking with your friends instead of going to a doctor as you told your boss, then that might get you in trouble.”
Apart from the location-tagging function, which may or may not be required/activated by the company, there are also other functions that many people do not like. Ding Ding, unlike WeChat, automatically shows that your message has been delivered and read. It also allows a company to send out a ‘Ding alert’ (which notifies recipients through phone call/SMS/In-App alerts) to make sure everybody gets the message.
On Q&A platform Zhihu.com, user ‘Aurora’, who works at a HR company, tells how this has made life more troublesome for office staff:
“The rapid growth of Ding Ding lies in the fact that it meets the requirements of its user – the boss. Just imagine: you’re in the midst of finishing a proposal when the boss sends you a message saying you need to come over to bring them a certain file.
- Before using Ding Ding:
1. You see the message. You finish the last part of your proposal before bringing over the file to your boss a bit later.
2. You don’t see the message. You finish your task and take a break. You then see the message and take care of it.
3. No matter if you see did or did not see the message, the boss notices you did not respond and gives you a call.
- Since using Ding Ding:
1. You see the message. Your boss gets a ‘message read’ (已读) confirmation and you have no other option than to break off your work and immediately take care of it.
2. You haven’t seen it. So your boss sends you a ‘ding alert’ and you have no other option but to read it, break off your work, and immediately take care of it.”
Aurora also writes that Ding Ding is completely made to comply with the demands of the company’s managers rather than their staff. For office staff, it is not convenient to have to respond to the boss’s wishes immediately – it can disturb their everyday tasks and adds stress to their job. For the manager, on the other hand, it has become very easy to reach the staff: they do not even need to pick up the phone anymore, and can reach whoever they want right away.
On Weibo, many people share Aurora’s views and are not too happy with Ding Ding. “I’ve had enough with this app! It reminds me every single morning to clock in to work!”
Others also complain that the app only adds to the time they spend looking at their phone: “If it’s not my QQ group, then it’s my WeChat group or my Ding Ding group – it seems I am looking at my phone screen all day,” one Weibo user says.
There are also people who note that they are hardly ever really free from work anymore. As one Xiamen worker writes: “I had the morning off. But I had hundreds of WeChat messages, dozens of Ding Ding messages, and three missed phone calls. This is ruining me.”
“With this Ding Ding app it seems like no matter what time it is or where you are, you’re just always at work,” another complaint said.
“It looks like they are going to implement Ding Ding at my office. I just want to punch the person who invented this app.”
But despite all the backlash and complaints, Ding Ding’s popularity as an office solution for immediate workplace communication and registering employee’s working hours is on the rise.
On the app’s review page on the Huawei store, some call it “the best office application.” Others also note that the app is not just convenient, but also free: “It is very practical, and it has saved me the costs for other office management software.”
Other reviewers also seem much more enthusiastic than the complaining netizens on Weibo: “In our office, it’s become an essential tool – and its functions just keep getting better and better.”
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The Fisherman’s Advantange? China Post Starts Partnership with Huawei
Today marks the start of an unexpected ‘romance’ between Huawei and China Post, as the two just announced their strategic cooperation.
On June 5, the topic “China Post Starts Cooperation with Huawei” (#中国邮政与华为合作#) became one of the hottest topics on social media site Weibo shortly after the state-owned China Post Group Corporation announced that it would start a strategic partnership with the Chinese multinational tech company.
According to CNbeta.com, one of China’s major tech news sites, China Post and Huawei will start a close partnership and set up a “China Post Huawei New Technology Application Lab” (中国邮政·华为新技术应用实验室) to jointly develop strategies concerning financial services, tech innovation, big data, post logistics, and more.
News of the cooperation was widely shared on Chinese social media today by various state media outlets, with some threads attracting thousands of comments.
For many Chinese netizens, the press release apparently was the right time to complain about China Post being “too slow,” expressing hopes that the new partnership would make the postal services run more smoothly.
“Little Huawei crying on the shoulders of China Post.“
Others suggested that the recent trade war with the US, in which Huawei plays a key role, might have to do with this new move. “This is like little Huawei was being bullied outside, and then came back home to cry on the shoulders of China Post,” one Weibo user jokingly writes, soon receiving over 10,000 likes.
Others called China Post the “the fisherman with an advantage.” This comes from a Chinese saying, that goes 鹬蚌相争,渔翁得利 Yù bàng xiāng zhēng, yúwēng dé lì : “When the snipe and the clam fight, the fisherman has an advantage,” with the ‘fisherman’ being the third party who catches both the snipe and the clam, profiting from the conflict of two others.
The Chinese telecom giant Huawei was added to a trade blacklist earlier last month, as the China-US trade war reached another tipping point. Some experts suggest that US President Trump is using Huawei as a bargaining chip after he earlier stated that Huawei could be included in “some kind of trade deal” with China.
News of the Huawei/China Post partnership also comes days after China’s postal regulator said it would launch an investigation into US delivery company FedEx, which diverted two parcels destined for Huawei in China to the US. Chinese government authorities reportedly issued a statement saying that FedEx’s actions had “violated Chinese laws and regulations on the express delivery sector.”
“China Post kissed Huawei’s face and said: I will handle this for you.“
Chinese netizens seem to be creatively inspired by Huawei’s tough spot in the China-US trade war situation and the sudden appearance of China Post in this story. Many commenters personify ‘Little Huawei’ and ‘Big China Post,’ imagining that China Post comforts the crying Huawei and takes it in its arms.
One person writes:
“One day, Hua returned home, and went straight to bed. China Post saw it, and softly asked ‘What happened, who made you upset?’ Huawei pulled the blanket over his head and sighed: ‘Nothing, it’s a trivial matter, I can handle it myself.’ But the Post pulled down the blanket, bowed down to kiss Huawei’s face and said: ‘You go and rest now. I will handle this for you.’“
“They’re so cute together!”, multiple Weibo users write, suggesting that the Huawei China Post partnership has a ‘romantic’ element to it.
Although some people expect that there are ulterior motives behind the sudden cooperation between China Post and Huawei, many do applaud the fact that it is truly a ‘Chinese’ cooperation. “In crucial times we always rely most on our own family,” a student remarks.
By now, the cooperation is not just triggering people’s fictional creativity, it is also setting off the online meme machine, with a potential new logo for the China Post x Huawei company circulating online (see below).
Whether or not Huawei and China Post indeed get to live happily ever after? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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Top 10 China’s Most Popular Smartphone Brands & Models (May/June 2019)
These are the ten most popular smartphone brands and models in China right now.
In 2018, What’s on Weibo listed the top 10 most popular smartphone brands in China. With a smartphone market that is dynamic and rapidly changing, it’s time for an update to see which smartphones brands are currently most popular in the PRC.
Since 2017, we’ve seen various smartphone trends coming and going. Bezel-less devices, increasing the size of the screen, have gone from trend to norm. In the selfie era, the same holds true for high-performing front-facing cameras. More temporary trends have given way to more sophisticated gadget design. It’s all about superzoom cameras, full-view displays, pop-up selfie cameras, and let’s not forget about 5G.
One other major trend that is ongoing for the past years is that despite the popularity of Apple and Samsung, ‘made in China’ brands are dominating the smartphone and tablet market.
But the biggest trend now, more so than trendy and colorful design or smooth edges, is photography: the latest devices from different brands are now, more than ever, competing over who has the best (main) camera.
Looking at popularity charts on Baidu and Zol.com, leading IT portal website in China, the brands Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei are still the top popular smartphone brands in China. Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo were also the best-selling smartphones on the market in Q1 (Sohu), followed by Xiaomi, Apple, and Samsung.
Making an absolute top 10 of most popular smartphone brands in China at this moment is not so straightforward, however, since the rankings are different depending on the source and on which phone models are sold the most at a particular time.
The charts of leading e-commerce platforms JD.com and Suning, for example, are not exactly the same as Zol’s smartphone popularity rankings. We will stick to the Zol rankings for this article, looking at brands first and matching them with their most popular device models.
#10 Realme and the Realme X
Realme is a Shenzhen-based company that was established in 2018: it is the youngest smartphone brand in this list. Previously, it was a subbrand of OPPO but became independent in May of last year.
The Realme phone price starts at ￥1499 ($216) for the 4GB + 64GB storage variant. It has a a 6.53-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) AMOLED screen, and features a 48-megapixel primary camera.
On social media, the Realme is mostly praised for its strong camera and friendly price.
#9 OnePlus (一加) and OnePlus7 Pro
OnePlus is a Shenzhen based Chinese smartphone manufacturer founded by Pete Lau and Carl Pei in December 2013. The company officially serves 32 countries and regions around the world as of January 2018.
The OnePlus 7 Pro of ￥4999 ($722) is currently listed as the number one popular smartphone by Zol.com; the brand itself is on the lower end of the top 10 most popular smartphone brands in China.
The 7 Pro device was called “one of the best Android phones you can buy” by AndroidCentral, on top of being “the best phone OnePlus has released to-date.”
The phone is big: it features a 6.67-inch display with a screen resolution of 1440 x 3120 pixels. It has fingerprint sensor, a 4000 mAh battery, and a rear 48MP + 16MP + 8MP camera.
#8 Meizu (魅族) and the Meizu 16s
Meizu is another Chinese homegrown brand, established by high school dropout Jack Wong (Huáng Zhāng 黄章) in 2003.
The Meizu device that is currently ranked in the top 10 hot-selling lists is the 16S that was released in April and is priced at ￥3198 ($462). The device has a 6.2 inch AMOLED screen (1080 x 2232 px). The main camera is a 48 MP, and the device is equipped with a 3600mAh battery.
The cheaper 16Xs (#魅族16Xs#) was a popular topic on social media on May 30, which is when it was launched.
#7 Xiaomi (小米) and the Redmi Note
Since the launch of its first smartphone in 2011, Beijing-brand Xiaomi has become one of the world’s largest smartphone makers. In the Zol rankings the brand is currently listed at number 7, in JD.com’s hot-selling lists, it’s ranked 3. The Redmi is actually a sub-brand of Xiaomi, but it’s still listed as Xiaomi in ranking lists such as that of JD.com.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7, Redmi K20, and Xiaomi 9 are all doing well, with the Redmi being the more popular device within the PRC. Techradar describes the Redmi Note 7 as a “great budget smartphone” with “stellar battery life.”
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 has a 6.3 inch (1080 x 2340) full-HD display (Full HD+) and a 12 MP main camera(the Redmi Note 7S has a 48 MP main camera). The cheapest models of ￥998 ($144) are among the lowest priced devices in this list.
#6 Apple (苹果) and the iPhone XR/XS Max
The position of Apple in China’s smartphone market has become a hot topic of discussion on social media recently in light of the rising China-US trade tensions. Although iPhone sales in China have indeed been dropping according to news reports, the iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max currently rank number 8 and number 10 most popular devices according to Zol at time of writing, with Apple ranking 6 in the top 10 smartphone brand charts. In the current list of best-selling smartphones on e-commerce site JD.com, the iPhone XR even ranks number one.
The iPhone XS Max is bigger than ever: it has a 6.5-inch OLED (2,688 x 1,242 pixels) screen whereas the XR has a 6.1-inch LCD (1,792 x 828 pixels). The camera of the XS Max has a dual 12-megapixel camera with wide-angle and telephoto. The XR has a single 12-megapixel wide-angle.
Some Chinese bloggers don’t understand why the iPhone is still so popular in China. Influential Weibo tech blogger Keji Xinyi (@科技新一) recently wrote: “The exterior of all Android flagship devices looks better than iPhone, they take better pictures too, why do girls still like the iPhone so much?”
Some of the popular answers include that people like iOS, that they prefer the “uncomplicated” use of the iPhone, and praise it for being “stable.”
With its ￥8399 ($1214) price tag, the iPhone XS Max is the most expensive phone around. The XR is currently priced at ￥5399 ($780).
#5 Honor (荣耀) and the Honor V20
Honor, established in 2013, is the budget-friendly sister of the Huawei brand. The company’s sub-brand has been doing very well over the past years. Honor focuses on great value for money.
The brand has over 21 million fans on Weibo. Honor targets younger consumers, not just with its relatively low prices, but also with its trendy designs, often offering phones in vibrant blue, pink and purple colors.
While the Honor brand currently ranks 5 on China’s nationwide smartphone brands popularity charts, its most popular device, the Honor V20, now ranks number 9 within smartphone device rankings. Another bestseller is the Honor Magic 2.
Priced at ￥2799 ($404), the V20 device is one of the cheaper ones in the popularity charts. It has a 6.40-inch display with a resolution of 1080×2310 pixels. Its rear camera is a 48-megapixel camera, with its selfie camera being a 25-megapixel one. It is available in colors Charm Sea Blue, Magic Night Black, Charm Red, Phantom Red, and Phantom Blue.
#4 Samsung (三星) and the Galaxy S10
Samsung currently is the most popular smartphone brand in the PRC that is not made-in-China. The brand seems to have been able to win back consumer’s trust after its previous problems with overheating and exploding batteries. In the first half of 2018, China actually replaced the US as the biggest market for Samsung.
The Galaxy S10 is the most popular Samsung device of this moment, and recent reports on bugs that allegedly come with a recent update have not seemed to impact its ranking.
The S10 has a 6.1-inch Super AMOLED QHD+ screen with 1440 x 3040-pixel display resolution. Like most devices on this list, its camera is good: a triple rear camera (12 MP x 12 MP x 16 MP) that can shoot panorama shots on ultra wide. The device has a dual-SIM tray/microSD card slot, and is water-resistant.
Price: ￥5999 ($867).
#3 Huawei (华为) and its P30 Series
In light of the China-US trade war, Huawei has been making international headlines recently. Judging from e-commerce ranking lists and ZOL.com popularity lists, Huawei’s popularity within the PRC seems to be unaffected by the recent consternation; if anything, it has only made the brand more popular within mainland China. Huawei remains to be one of China’s top smartphone brands.
The most popular device of the Huawei brand currently is the Huawei P30 Pro mobile, ranking fifth in Chinas most popular smartphone charts of this moment. The Huawei P30 is slightly less popular, ranked at number 8.
The P30 Pro features a Full HD+ OLED 6.47 inches display, an integrated fingerprint sensor in the display, with a screen resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. It has a 40MP + 16MP + 8MP camera that is the best part of the device, with an impressive zoom function:
The device has been called “one of the best and most unique phones” to be released this year, and is an absolute winner for its camera compared to the Samsung S10 or the iPhone XS Max. The Pro price is set at ￥5488 ($793), also making it one of the most expensive phones in the top lists of this moment.
#2 Vivo and its Vivo X27
Vivo is another Chinese brand that has gained worldwide success since it first entered the market in 2009. Its headquarters are based in Dongguan, Guangdong.
Vivo often cooperates with Chinese celebrities in its marketing campaigns, such as Chinese singer and actor Lu Han (born 1990) or Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu (born 1992), clearly targeting the post-90s consumer group.
The brand has over 37 million followers on its Weibo account, making it the most popular brand in terms of online fans.
The Vivo X27 device was launched in China in March of 2019 and is specifically marketed as a “night photo” wonder tool.
The VivoX27 is a 6.39-inch dual-sim device with a super AMOLED screen. It has a 48 MP main camera and 12 MP selfie camera, and in-display fingerprint sensor.
The Vivo X27 Pro hashtag (#vivo X27 Pro#) has over 96 million views on Weibo at time of writing, with most netizens mostly praising the device for its ability to make good photos at night. The device is currently also ranked number one on Zol.com in the best mobile gaming device category.
Priced around ￥3598 ($520).
#1 Oppo and its OPPO Reno Series
2019 is the year of 5G, and OPPO Reno is ready for it. Oppo launched its latest 5G supported OPPO Reno smartphone in April of 2019 and has since been a hit on Chinese social media. The OPPO Reno hashtag (#OPPO全新Reno#) has a staggering 560 million views on the Sina Weibo platform at the time of writing, with the launch of the orange Reno becoming a trending topic in late May.
OPPO is a Guangdong-based brand that officially launched in 2004. The brand is known for targeting China’s young consumers with its trendy designs and smart celebrity marketing. In 2016, the brand hit international top smartphone lists and ranked as the number 4 smartphone brand globally.
OPPO currently has over 25 million fans on Weibo.
The OPPO Reno has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, a 48-megapixel main camera, a wedge-shaped pop-up camera (16-megapixel front-facing), and in-display fingerprint scanner. Besides the standard Oppo Reno, there is also the OPPO Reno’s 10x Hybrid Zoom, and that model is mostly praised on Chinese social media for its photo quality under the OPPO Reno 10 X Zoom hashtag (#OPPOReno10倍变焦版#). Check the photos below of one Weibo user (@塔湾小魔王) trying out the zoom.
Price starting from: ￥3599 ($520).
Some brands that did not make this top 10 list are still worth mentioning. One of them is Nubia (努比亚): Nubia may not be a very well-known brand outside of China, but in the PRC it’s been consistently hitting top brand lists. Nubia, owned by parent company ZTE, has been doing very well in China’s top-scoring smartphone lists since it was officially launched in 2015.
Other popular brands include Lenovo, ZTE, and Smartisan, Meitu: all Chinese companies.
“China has so many domestically produced smartphone,” Chinese tech blogger Keji Xinyi (@科技新一) recently wrote on Weibo: “Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo, OnePlus, Meizu, Lenovo, etc. etc. Why is it that if we’re talking about Chinese phones we’re always talking about Huawei?”
Among the hundreds of responses, many think Huawei is simply the best, with others saying it just has a very strong marketing campaign. Most people, however, agree that Chinese smartphone market has much more to offer than Huawei alone.
By Manya Koetse
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