Global Times Mobile

Over the past few years, more and more people in China appear to be glued to their phones. Apparently, this abundance of phones in the world's largest marketplace for smartphones is among the reasons for the rise of "no-mobile-phone-phobia" in China.

It should also be pointed out that a myriad of mobile apps that incorporate the mobile Internet into various aspects of everyday life such as dining, housekeeping, hairdressing and travelling further draw a majority of the country's online population closer to their phones.

Nevertheless, the chance of creating a commercial success in life-services online-to-offline commerce - or O2O as it's commonly known - has weakened significantly over the years, especially for start-ups aspiring for immediate success.

The fact that only a small portion of group buying apps have survived in the market highlights the cruel competition in this hugely diverse industry where an unknown app can become hugely popular overnight before vanishing just as quick. For life-services O2O, figuring out a sustainable business model has been hard.

Furthermore, while it might not have been too difficult for an app focusing on a particular niche market to attract angel investors and venture capitalists early on in the country's O2O boom, it has turned out be much tougher for O2O platform start-ups to raise funds from the market.

After all, the stage of wild growth has passed with a few Internet giants including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent acquiring smaller players and consequently reaching into almost every corner of Chinese people's everyday life.

It's increasingly believed that the arena will mainly feature rivalries among the existing major players who are set to compete on user experience and technological strength in a way that crowds out the multitude of smaller apps.

In the latest sign of the times, China's top classifieds site and Tencent Holdings, the owner of the popular WeChat messaging app, unveiled a strategic partnership in Shenzhen earlier this month, in a move that deepens the two Chinese Internet giants' cooperation in the country's market for life services that continues to move further into the Internet age.

Back in 2014, Tencent announced its acquisition of a roughly 20 percent stake in, described as China's Craigslist, as the two companies aimed to jointly build a local services ecosystem.

With the new partnership that will combine Tencent's social networking prowess and's online advertising strength, the duo are well on their way to appealing more to the country's increasingly mobile Internet-savvy users, a reflection of a paradigm shift toward survival of the biggest in China's life-services O2O space.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.