Monthly Archives: February 2011

Weibo 2.0

Meet Weibo!

It is a Chinese version of Twitter – it literally means micro-blog – that expects around 150 million users by the end of 2011.

Helped by the diffusion of mobile phones with advanced features, the number of micro-bloggers in China is expected to grow extremely fast in the coming years thanks to the 10 million users joining every… month. Its top 100 users have a whopping 180 million of followers.

And Twitter in all of this? Well, like Facebook, it remains officially blocked for the time being in China, except for a handful of sophisticated users who can route around the firewall. That said, like with other web applications (e.g., search engines) the Chinese version looks very much like the original non-Chinese version but with added features that better match Chinese users’ needs – for instance, Chinese users tend to enjoy following celebrities’ micro-blogs.

My wish for micro-blogs? A service that translates them in the language of your choice.

The mystery of Chinese patenting

The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has released its latest statistics on Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – simultaneous patent protection for an invention in a large number of countries.

Two surprises emerge from the ranking. First, with more than  1800 patents filed, ZTE (up 20 ranks from last year)  has joined its arch-rival Huawei in the top 5. ZTE actually ranks second, between Panasonic and Qualcomm. By themselves the two telecommunication equipment makers account for more than 25% of all Chinese patents published internationally. Second, no other Chinese firm or research institution can be found in the top 600.

Despite a 56% jump in the overall number of applications for 2010, international patenting by Chinese organizations appears to remain extremely fragmented. The strong contrast with Huawei and ZTE is bound to attract further comments from Washington and Brussels as to how level the playing field when it comes to intellectual property in China.

Chinese cyber-spies target energy firms

According to a white paper released by McAfee, individuals in China have been conducting “coordinated covert and targeted cyberattacks against global oil, energy and petrochemical companies in Kazakhstan, Greece, Taiwan and the USA since 2009″.

Besides an explanation of how the attacks – named Night Dragon – are being conducted, how cyber-espionage is increasingly a concern for firms and how the software company can prevent it, the report contains an appendix on attribution of these attacks to China. It seems that exfiltration activity was traced back to Beijing-based IP addresses and that the tools employed are of Chinese origin and used in Chinese underground hacking forums.

Provided the attacks do orignate in China, it is interesting to note the shift from the more “traditional” military cyber-warfare against Taiwan to economic cyber-espionage.

Innovation 2020

One thing is sure: the Chinese government is not short of goals for 2020.

The latest large-scale project “Innovation 2020″ aims to convert basic research – which China is increasingly good at - into technology and markets. Emphasis will be placed on nuclear fusion and waste management, regenerative medicine as well as more “traditional” areas like material science or IT.

With all the talks about bottom-up, community-based or open innovation, China still trods the more conventional path of top-down government-sponsored innovation. One really looks forward to 2020 to see which strategy will bring the best results.