Shanzhai culture (revised)

Something with a high degree of moral connectivity as well as utility: Shanzhai culture. It’s also an example of the dematerialization of global culture: only informational flows are necessary to maintain it. The ACTA is nominally aimed at it. Interesting that it is in a “coopetition” relationship with the branded goods that it imitates, but there’s more depth to it than that. Shanzhai includes a certain element of parody, as well as selection; not all high value consumer goods are chosen for imitation. Knowledge of what is popular to imitate can provide good intelligence about consumer preferences. Recall that the big record companies, for example, pay certain companies to monitor file-sharing networks, so they can get real-time information about what is popular.

From wikipedia:

Shanzhai (simplified Chinese: 山寨; pinyin: shānzhài) refers to Chinese knockoff and pirated brands and goods, particularly electronics. Literally “mountain village” or “mountain stronghold,” the term refers to the mountain stockades of warlords or thieves, far away from official control. “Shanzhai” can also be stretched to refer to people who are lookalikes, low-quality or improved goods, as well as things done in parody.

Continue reading “Shanzhai culture (revised)”

Shanzhai culture (revised)

Red Hat, doing what Toyota can’t

Not good:

Plunge in Exports Reverberates Across Asia
Japan Reports 27 Percent Drop as Regional Trade Slows; Toyota Warns of First Loss in 70 Years

Japan reported yesterday that its exports plunged a record 27 percent in November, signaling a dramatic deterioration in the world’s second-largest economy and the collapse of the export-led boom that had lifted many Asian nations.

Indeed, even mighty Toyota said yesterday it will post its first operating loss in seven decades, providing a vivid example of how some of the world’s most profitable companies have been quickly humbled by the global recession.

Japan’s stunning decline in exports is being echoed across Asia, where country after country is reporting data that has exceeded even the grimmest forecasts. Thailand said yesterday its exports in November fell by nearly 19 percent, the most in 17 years. Similarly, Taiwan’s exports fell 23 percent in November, and a government report on future export orders set to be released today is expected to show another steep drop.

This isn’t good as Toyota is a leading, innovative company in so many ways.  In the end though, even Toyota will take some losses in this perfect storm.  However, there is one bright spot: free software:

Red Hat Profit Rises on Sales to Budget-Minded Buyers (Update2)

By Rochelle Garner

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) — Red Hat Inc.’s quarterly profit and forecast beat analysts’ estimates after the company’s Linux software attracted budget-conscious buyers, sending the shares up 6.5 percent in late trading.

Third-quarter net income rose 20 percent to $24.3 million, or 12 cents a share, from $20.3 million, or 10 cents, a year earlier, Red Hat said today in a statement. Excluding stock-based compensation and tax expenses, profit was 24 cents a share in the period ended Nov. 30, compared with the 16-cent average estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

Red Hat, the world’s biggest distributor of Linux software, is touting its open-source programs as a way to cut costs in a shrinking economy. The underlying code of Red Hat’s software is developed freely by programmers worldwide, lowering the company’s expenses. Red Hat expanded its software in September by buying Qumranet Inc., a maker of virtualization software, which lets server computers run several operating systems at once.

“A down economic time is relatively good for our business,” Chief Executive Officer James Whitehurst said today in an interview.

Red Hat, doing what Toyota can’t

The eeePC is irrelevant…and it can disappear (into my briefcase)

Now there’s so much competition that even if the eeePC were withdrawn, or if Asus lost their lawsuit against IBM, the momentum of this new market segment would continue without it. Let’s all do remember too that it was the OLPC that started it all. A whole new market segment initiated by a not-for-profit. Part of the trend of the expansion of the not for profit sector.

Of course, the incumbents are trying to shut the barn door long after the horse has left. Here’s one Sony exec.:

If [Asus’ Eee PC] starts to do well, we are all in trouble,” Mike Abary, a senior VP with Sony US’ IT products operation, told Cnet. That’s just a race to the bottom… if mainstream buyers buy it then whoa…” (Found here)

“IF???” Yeah, right Mike, so what planet do you live on? The eeePC has sold more than 400,000 units, and it can’t be kept on shelves. So I don’t see any justification for the “if”. No wonder Sony is in the pickle it’s in.

Sounds like a game consolebut not one that Sony makes. Like the wii, the eeePC is priced below the competition, it is cool, and it fits into the man maximum/machine minimum trend that’s been going on for the last few years. The eeePC does this by being small and unobtrusive. I can throw it in my briefcase and hardly even know it’s there. Try that with a laptop. Less is more.

This form factor is also inherently much more sustainable than a large format laptop–it uses less power, less materials and is going to be easier to recycle. Of course, each manufacturer needs to do the right thing and get their components from green suppliers, using lead free circuit boards and batteries that don’t contain mercury. But being green is always easier when you’re not so big.

But, look at all the great competition there is! What a glorious race to the bottom!

(They are in the order of e_f’s perception of coolness…)

Continue reading “The eeePC is irrelevant…and it can disappear (into my briefcase)”

The eeePC is irrelevant…and it can disappear (into my briefcase)

Globalization de-materialized by 176 Clicks

Went up to Chicago this weekend, and saw Millennium Park and all kinds of really interesting Architecture, too.

But, what was interesting and relevant to my observations on current trends in Globalization was a small purchase I’d made at Ikea. As usual, Ikea has gotten so many things right in both their business plan and their designs, because both are integrated. Their business plan is fully integrated into the criteria they establish for designs.

(Apparently, no owner of an  American furniture company that serves the residential market can understand this concept, so the American furniture industry, in the face of Ikea’s competition, is just going to roll over and play dead…)

Continue reading “Globalization de-materialized by 176 Clicks”

Globalization de-materialized by 176 Clicks