China’s Economy:Internet Thinking Explored from An Economics Perspective
If we are to remove the buzzwords in China, “Internet thinking” mustbe on the list. This is largely to do with the success of Xiaomi mobilephones which Ju Lei, founder of Xiaomi, has boldly attributed toInternet thinking. After Xiaomi, the public has become very interestedin Internet thinking and hopes to use it to revolutionize other sectorsand replicate Xiaomi’s success. However, what exactly is Internetthinking? So far there does not seem to have a definitive answer.
Many simply dismiss it as a publicity gimmick or Xiaomi marketinghype.
We believe the confusion is caused by the absence of a cleardefinition of the Internet thinking concept itself. This is exactly whatthe author is trying to explain from an economics perspective.
In the author’s mind, Internet thinking does exist. Once the Internet isbeing used in businesses, traditional marketing models andphilosophies are revolutionized. Strictly speaking, the so-calledInternet thinking is a business model emerging from a vastcustomer base which has experienced tremendous baseexpansion and cost reduction enabled by the Internet. Theguiding principle of Internet thinking is this: “Ordinary people isking, user experience is priority, and scale is key”. Next, we shallengage the supply and demand analytical tools in economics toelaborate.
Any given type of goods (service may also be defined as goods),may be rated differently by different users. Customers who are reallyin need of the goods will be willing to pay higher price while thosewith weak desire will only be willing to pay lower price. Therefore, asthe price of a product (or service) increases, the number ofcustomers willing to pay for it will decrease. If we translate this in agraph with price and quantity as the two axis, we will have adownward sloping demand curve that we are all familiar with. On theother hand, companies usually face increasing marginal cost. Thelarger the output, the higher the selling price required to make up forthe higher cost. Graphically, this is an upward sloping supply curve.
The intersection of the demand and supply curves represents theactual transaction quantity and price.
Under traditional production technologies, marginal costs ofproduction rise rapidly. This is because companies have limitedcapacities. When utilization closes to the maximum capacity,machine impairment and labour cost will drastically increase. Thismay also be a result of the companies’ limited marketing capacity sothat it needs to bear higher cost to promote the goods to morepeople. No matter what the reasons are, the endgame is that thecompanies can only serve so many customers. If we represent thisgraphically, we will have a rather steep supply curve. Theintersection of this supply and demand curves will not be too faraway from the origin. Let’s call this the “near end” of the demandcurve (Figure 1).