Why China Has WordPress Potential

China’s recent explosive growth has meant a boon for technologies and their even cheaper copies. As China grows out of manufacturing-focused economy and moves toward a post-industrial phase, community designed open source software will continue to be important to maintaining technological growth while also observing foreign intellectual property. Google’s Android platform, which is the backbone of most smartphone operating systems in China, is a good example. Despite China and Google’s rocky past, Android and Google Play’s relative openness allows greater market dominance compared to its walled garden rival, Apple. Android is an open platform that can be hacked, redesigned, remixed and changed to fit the country’s needs. Instead of hardware manufacturers needing to build an operating system around their hardware, there is now a fast track to getting products to market sooner. As a result, the Android platform has exploded in popularity, though many still pine for Apple if their budgets would allow. Most importantly, Android opens a door for WordPress to fill the void of developers’ needs. When developers and designers can take advantage of an open platform and totally own its design and content, there’s no need to be behind a large web portals like QQ to disseminate information.

China of course, is not without its caveats. The growth of Western-designed open source software has begun to worry the elite of the Chinese government. Most importantly, the government is worried about China’s over-reliance on foreign technology. Google’s success make the Communist Party feel like its technology is a sort of crutch for its own IT growth. This has led to purchases of chip companies by State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), investment in local tech (Weibo over Twitter, Baidu over Google, etc). In some cases, attempts to unseat foreign technology result in homemade hybrids. For example, China Operating System (COS) was launched in 2014 to try to unseat Windows, iOS and Android to allow the government to champion its own local technology. Even though the operating system is based on Linux, it’s still a closed platform being developed by  the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS) together with Shanghai Liantong Network Communications Technology. While this is not China’s first attempt to unseat foreign technology (see Kylin), WordPress could potentially grow too large to the Communist Party’s bottom-line.

Growth in WordPress, like Android and Linux, is likely to happen due to its price, quality, maturity and availability in the marketplace. It’s of use to the Chinese web and a greater mission of WordPress to reach more than just the English-speaking world. With WordPress’ 24 percent representation of the entire web, and Chinese-language sites only representing 2.8 percent of the web, it’s difficult to estimate the percent of the Chinese web using WordPress as a platform. However, as WordPress begins to gain more share of the Content Management System market, that’s likely to change in the future. So, as long as WordPress is a free and open platform of content delivery and expression that anyone can use, it will likely see continued widespread growth in China.


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