Archive for the 'Eye on the World' category

China, Skype, Verso and other sins

Fri 25, November 2005 12:16:43

Everybody loves Skype, right? Well, everybody, except large Telcos whose already dimming profits face a whole new threat with the birth of free VoIP calls. Maybe even worse than the free computer-to-computer, is the *extremely* cheap calls from computer to real phone numbers.
Now, what would happen if you mix a company that sees a way of profiting from this fear with a giant telecom company operating in a pseudo-free market, with a pseudo-democratic system? You get a Verso-China wedding.
Verso’s working bees have been busy trying to find a way to filter out all Skype network traffic from the rest, in a move to create products that can allow carriers to block this little program from working. An “unnamed” major market player in China is grabbing the idea, and bought a trial-version of Verso’s software.
This is not really new - in fact, China Telecom already prevents Skype from being used to call normal phones, claiming this is illegal.
The general excuse is that these services are a threat to the viability of their business, and their usage is putting a huge load on their network, therefore they have to right to prevent them – and of course, the Chinese law is on their side.
This sounds as ridiculous to me as if you couldn’t use your Toyota car on a highway, because the highway management company had a deal with Ford. But it might be that I’m simply not as an enlightened as the Chinese ;)

As an end note, a curious fact: Verso claims that there is a lot of “hate” for Skype, because of its business model and usage of the network, but curious enough, they “love” Vonage, and even plan to make profit from selling some of their products.
What was that word again? … ah! yes… hypocrisy.

A taste of (chinese) things to come

Thu 6, October 2005 22:21:20

Another war of words has started in Europe, this time because of the LandWind. The LandWind is a low cost Chinese SUV, manufactured by the Jiangling Corporation, which recently debuted in the Netherlands. The importer is promoting it as the “first Chinese car in Europe”, and claiming it’s an excellent value-for-money car.
As usual, people were skeptical of the quality of the car, following the common preconception that “Chinese products = low cost + low quality”. Than this report came out:

Automobile association ANWB issued a warning on Wednesday about the safety of the Chinese sports utility vehicle on sale in the Netherlands. Tests have shown that the driver’s compartment of the ‘Jiangling Landwind’ would crumple in a frontal collision at 64 kph. The driver would be killed or seriously injured. The ANWB said the vehicle’s design mirrored the technical expertise achieved by western car makers 30 years ago.

Several more news came out about how unsafe this SUV was. Now the importer is fighting back, stating that it submitted the LandWind to a new test, and that although it’s not the safest car out there, it meets European regulations.

I have no comment on the quality of the SUV… I haven’t even seen one on the road yet! But what strikes me the most is this small paragraph on the FAQ section of the importer’s website (which is also not the best quality):

Are there a lot of Landwinds sold yet?
The 2.0L is already sold out.

Well, well… what’s the lesson here? There’s ALWAYS a market for low cost items. Even if a large part of the population is quality and safety conscious, cost is ultimately the final decision factor for many people, particularly when the economy is not exactly topnotch.
I believe this is another serious wake-up call for a lot of American and European companies, like car manufacturers, which are used to use their “prestige” as an excuse for demanding a premium price.
I believe we will see more and more of these examples, as the Asian companies start moving up the food chain, from the “cheap shirts” to luxury goods.
West, beware…

Miserable failure


Another example of creativity (and political sarcasm!).
In Google, type “failure” or “miserable failure”. Press “I’m feeling lucky”.


The explanation of why this happens is on the “Sponsored links” section.
Regardless of what they say, I think Google is the only company who has enough “coolness” to pull off something like this.
Pretty funny, if you ask me.