Ever since the invention of internet, users have spotted the joys of free knowledge: access to a sea of knowledge with one simple click of mouse. Chinese, though, is embracing the idea of paid knowledge sharing platforms with both their minds and their wallets.
The top 3 knowledge sharing platforms
China’s paid knowledge sharing industry mainly falls into three categories, represented by three apps: Fenda, the voice Q&A platform, Zhihu Live, the voice live streaming speech provider, and Ximalaya, the podcast-like app that offers paid audio courses.
Launched on May 15, Fenda allows its users to ask celebrities and experts questions by offering a price for an answer – and then the person being asked chooses whether that price is acceptable. Another user who hopes to listen to the answer needs to pay a small sum of money – one RMB (USD 15 cents).
The price of a question varies greatly. Wang Sicong, the only son of China’s richest businessman, Wang Jianlin, amassed over RMB 200,000 answering questions on Fenda. Wang Jianlin is chairman of Wanda Group, China’s largest real estate developer.
Late last month, Fenda announced that it secured RMB 200 million financing led by the Chinese tech behemoth Tencent. So far, the app has more than 500,000 celebrities and experts on it, and over one million paid users, according to Fenda.
Zhihu Live, as its Chinese name suggests, combines live streaming with knowledge sharing, where professionals give voice live streaming speeches and lectures to paid listeners, at an average price of RMB 50, according to Zhihu.
Zhihu users welcomed the new form of knowledge sharing. A live lecture on data analysis saw as many as 120,000 attendees.
In May, Zhihu, China’s Quora-like Q&A website, launched its paid live streaming product Zhihu Live, in an effort to monetize its 13 million daily active users.
Compared with Fenda and Zhihu, Ximalaya’s operations are more traditional, offering paid online audio courses. Its potent weapon against the competition is the use of key online opinion leaders and celebrities.
Although Ximalaya, a major Chinese podcast sharing service, claimed it has 250 million users, it is not as primed as other players in the field to transform its users into paid consumers.
Why do users pay for knowledge sharing services?
Demographically, economically, and technologically, the timing is perfect.
As the internet-savvy Generation-Y graduate from universities and start work, some among them seek more guidance to help them to grow quickly and perform better at work.
Compared to face-to-face lectures and speeches, the online sharing of knowledge can be more affordable and convenient. These new audio forms allow users to attend a lecture from any place that has internet access.
Why have these companies launched the service?
For knowledge-sharing online communities like Zhihu and Fenda, they are keen to find monetizing models based on their huge number of registered users.
These apps are also happy to make use of the live streaming and voice messaging technology to help their users learn new things easier, and of course spend more time on their apps.
As more and more consumption shifts from products to knowledge, China’s consumption pattern is becoming more diverse.
(Top photo from Pixabay.com)