Monthly Archives: August 2008

Domestic innovation re-shaping China's economy?

According to a recent Gartner report, innovation is re-shaping China’s economy. And this time it is supposed to come from domestic firms.

There are the technology innovators like Yulong which developed mobile phones that work with both GSM and CDMA networks;  the business model innovators like Focus Media who invented selling ads via LCDs; and even the operation innovators, like China Mobile who are able to maintain a 50% margin with a voice tariff below 0.03 cents per minute.

For the time being innovation is still not radical. Most business models and products are copied from firms in developed economies but pioneering days may be getting closer. Government policy has maintained a strong emphasis on innovation policy over the past decade. All is needed now is a critical mass of private sector players…

Red Cross Society of China Launches Official Mobile Site

chinamobi.jpg In response to the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake, dotMobi [the company behind the .mobi Internet domain name for locating content that works on mobile phones] has collaborated with the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) to create a mobile Web site at http://chinaredcross.mobi.The mobile Web site allows the RCSC to ensure information on supporting relief efforts for earthquake victims reaches the widest possible audience. With more than 600 million mobile users (at least 3 times more than PC-based Internet users), mobile phones are (and will remain for some time) the de facto media to communicate in China. Mobile Web sites are also receiving increased attention from governments and businesses due to the improvement of mobile Internet content.
P.S.: The .mobi domain name seems to have gained more popularity in China than in any other country. China has registered 80,000 .mobi domain names, accounting for 10% of the worldwide total. .mobi has become even hotter on the black market, where invest.mobi eventually sold for US$22,500, substantially more than the initial RMB450 (US$64) registration fee. In fact, the popularity of .mobi is now second only to .com.

Fight piracy

Some of the major Chinese websites formed an alliance last week to monitor and fight the piracy of authorized online videos about the Olympic Games. The websites will jointly set up a round-the-clock monitor over the Internet, open hotlines to receive tips as well as publicizing a daily list of online pirates…

The partner websites promised to adopt proper technologies to prevent illegal links and not to provide Olympic videos for any unauthorized websites. They will also include only authorized Olympic videos in their search engines. The initiative is back by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) which has ordered all websites to respect the broadcast rights of www.cctv.com - the website was granted the exclusive rights to conduct live streaming of the Olympics in the Chinese mainland and Macao over the Internet and mobile phones.

P.S.: A number of counterfeit mobile phone producers have officially applied to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to make branded products. The reason?Fake mobile phones do not sell well and the manufacturers are forced to dump their products – these companies have monthly sales of 50,000 to 80,000 units. The move to legality (and higher margins) is driven by stricter restrictions and the lack of distribution channels. In addition, consumsers are increasingly trading lower prices for brands and after-sales service guarantee. But the task of building a brand is by no means easy for counterfeit producers. Serious quality issues have tarnished their reputations.

Do cyber-demonstration(s) matter?

rsr.jpg Reporter Without Borders is not diminishing their pressure on the Chinese government: you can now be part of a cyber-demonstration in front of the Bird’s Nest (the Olympic Stadium) together with other netizens.
Isn’t the blue sky a bit unrealistic?
In a related “media coup”, RSF used a “low-tech media” pulling off a 20-minute clandestine radio broadcast (here) through miniaturised FM transmitters and antennas. The programme, in English, French and Mandarin, was heard in on 104.4 FM in different districts of Beijing.While RSF and other NGOs efforts to pressure China on improving its record on human rights certainly go down well on their own constituencies (mostly outside of China), I wonder how effective they are and whether they do not take a risk of antagonizing Chinese citizens to the point that the initial (highly commendable) cause gets lost.

P.S.: One could also regret that RSF does not give more choice to the Netizens when it comes to the kind of message you can put in front of the stadium – one has only 5 messages to choose from… so much for freedom of expression!

Free Mobile Access to Beijing Games [in China]

mobiletv.jpg
“Techno-colonial” spheres of influence?
Source: Telegent Systems
With all the buzz around the launch of 3G in China (remember there is a standard war waged between TD-SCDMA, CDMA-2000 and W-CDMA) it may come as a surprise that most Chinese will not tune in to some form of digital mobile-TV broadcasts. Rather, they will receive “backward” analog signals.
Some 25 million phones equipped with analog mobile TV (around 15% of all handset sales in 2008) are already supposed to be on the market. They will provide some interesting competition to the digital mobile TV technology launched for the Olympic Games – a homegrown system known as China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting mixing satellite (to cover rural areas) and terrestrial signals.  For the time being, the competition between analog and digital is biased. First, there is no satellite broadcasting the signal as some players moved out of the project. Second, CMMB-based handsets won’t probably be ready in time for the Olympics (instead consumers will pick up CMMB signals to watch the Games on portable media players or by adding a USB dongle to a notebook. Third, the Chinese government has failed to settle on one single mobile-TV standard. Last but not least analog mobile TV provides consumers with a free and easy-to-use way of watching the same news, sports and other programming that consumers receive on their TV sets at home. The game is on!