Chapter 1 The World's Biggest Mobile Economy

What is the most celebrated Chinese holiday globally, by the Chinese and by everyone else? Here's a hint: It's not the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year. It is November 11, known as Singles’ Day. Not only is it the largest online shopping day each year in China, but it is also the largest in the world in terms of the total value of transactions.

Started by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009, the November 11 holiday has become an annual 24-hour online shopping extravaganza. (See the “Singles’ Day” box.) It is the single most important day each year for online vendors to target young, tech-savvy consumers who are accustomed to buying online and using their mobile phone wallets to pay for almost all goods, services and entertainment.

In 2015, during the run up to the shopping holiday, Alibaba hosted a gala celebration titled Double-11 Night Carnival. The four-hour TV variety show was directed by a top Chinese film director, Feng Xiao-Gang, and held at the Water Cube, a landmark structure built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Aired on the satellite channel Hunan TV, the variety program was also streamed on China's major video streaming site Youku Tudou, which was acquired by Alibaba only days before the Carnival.

Just like China's annual Spring Festival variety show carried by the state television network CCTV, the 2015 celebration included an 11.11 countdown, “to celebrate the potential for limitless innovation ...

Get China's Mobile Economy now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.