Silicon Valley hoping to cash in on wireless in China

A man with national flags on his hand uses his mobile phone to photograph himself at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009.

May 24, 2010 6:58:26 PM PDT
Tech and business leaders gathered at Stanford University Monday to learn about how to capitalize on the rapid growth of wireless broadband in China and providing Chinese consumers with an array of games and services.

Silicon Valley has attracted the attention of Chinese companies interested in joint ventures, partnerships and potential investments in American firms. Jason Wang, a partner in the firm of Cypress River Advisors, says he expects the next 12-18 months will be a busy period of Chinese companies buying up Silicon Valley start-up's that can help fill a fast-growing need for content. Cypress River Advisors helps to broker international partnerships and acquisitions.

"Whether we like it or not, China is coming to us," China investment advisor Duncan Clark said. "It's no longer a question of having to go to China; China is coming here via Chinese companies or the effects of Chinese Internet."

More than 300 people are attending the two-day conference at Stanford on the rise of China as a digital superpower, sponsored by the Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Researchers told the audience China is nation of 45 million mobile Internet users, but that is less than 10 percent of an estimated 570 million wireless users. As 3G and 4G high-speed networks are built, China is projected to become the world's largest mobile market. Entrepreneurs are anxious to capitalize on that massive market with mobile music services, gaming, social networking and other features.

Censorship is quietly acknowledged as a potential stumbling block in deploying American-style mobile services in China, much the way Google created a major controversy when it decided not to comply with Chinese regulations on blocking sensitive material from its search engine results. Game developer Stan Liu, president of Kronos Games Online, points out that content sometimes has to be modified due to local laws or cultural sensitivity. He points out that in Germany, for example, video games cannot show blood.

On the other side of the Pacific, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are talking to Chinese leaders Monday about currency reform and easing trade restrictions. Word from Beijing is that little progress is being made.


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