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Alibaba’s Vast Reach In China’s Huge Consumer Market

November 13, 2017, 3:57 PM UTC

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. Sign up here.

On the very day the U.S. honored military veterans who have made America great for more than two centuries, China celebrated a shopping orgy that makes Best Buy shoppers on Black Fridays look like consumerist pikers.

I refer, of course, to Singles’ Day, a set piece of Hallmark-worthy hokum that e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) hijacked into its own shopping extravaganza. Sales hit $25.3 billion for one day, proof positive that the Chinese are great capitalists, political ideology be damned. Indeed, as China’s retailing champion, Alibaba makes Amazon look like a company that carefully picks its spots. Sure, Amazon does e-tailing. So does Alibaba. Amazon (AMZN) represents third-party merchants. So does Alibaba. Amazon does online application hosting. So does Alibaba.

But Alibaba does much more. It has a dominant payments business. Its affiliated logistics network is vast. It is a major player in entertainment. It owned supermarkets for two years before Amazon bought Whole Foods.

People tend to wonder when Alibaba will enter the U.S. market. But those people are asking the wrong question. Alibaba reckons that in 2010 China and the U.S. had an equal number of online shoppers, about 140 million. By 2020 China should have 890 million. The U.S.: 270 million. Talk about pikers. The action clearly is in China, where non-Chinese e-commerce companies have been unwelcome, unsuccessful, uninspiring, or all of the above.


In case you missed it, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn chief Terry Gou signed a contract on Friday for the Taiwanese company to move forward on the taxpayer-subsidized display factory it announced earlier in the year. Gou personally guaranteed up to $500 million in penalties if the plant falls through.


Also, watch happens with Apple’s (AAPL) billion-dollar fund for TV shows and other entertainment. It won a contested bidding for a new show with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Interestingly, Apple hasn’t indicated yet how it will distribute the highly anticipated show.

Have a good week.