Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thanks, I'd rather live online

You live in a dorm with many others, and there's never a moment of privacy. You have almost no free spending money, and can afford very little luxury. You go to university in a city where real estate prices have gone through the roof, and owning or renting an apartment is a distant opportunity. So you go online.

This is, in short, the explanation for the wild success of Chinese website iPartment. iPartment is an online world where you can find an apartment, find someone to share it with and go and live there happily ever after.

And that's exactly what about half a million Chinese 18-25 year olds have done since the site's launch in July 2005. Couples spend time in their apartment, chatting in relative privacy, decorating it with furniture and luxury goods, or taking care of their pets. Stuff, pets and petfood can be bought at the site for a small fee.

Participants seem to love this cheap, commitment-free life and often spend hours a day on the site. The site turns a handy, though unreported, profit. This is China, after all.

You don't find the combination of low-income, internet-savvy youths in many other places, but I can't help but wonder if we'll see this phenomenon pop up elsewhere.

No comments: