Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Apple fanboys might cry

Think your smartphone is the hottest thing on the planet?  Are you a slave to the AT&T and Cspire wars?  It appears Chinese smartphones are way ahead of what we can do with our smartphones in America and are leaving us in the dust.  The Wall Street Journal reported last week:

We’re not using our phones to their full potential....

Sure, Americans get the best new handsets from Apple first. But in China, there are ways of living your life through a smartphone that left us jealous. China has even figured out a business model to legitimately stream the current season “Game of Thrones” on your phone, free.

What’s China’s edge? Technology is often just cheaper, allowing for more frequent phone swaps. Then there’s the world’s largest Internet culture—some 649 million wired people, 86% on phones—who make an incredible test base for new ideas. Many young people leapfrogged over laptops right to smartphones as their main computing device, so phones have evolved to do more....

Of course, we can’t ignore China’s problems with Internet freedoms. The Great Firewall means there’s very limited access to international services like Facebook and Google. The government embeds police in Internet companies ostensibly to prevent crime, but also to keep control over its citizens.

But as with many of the other contradictions in China, there’s so much good with the bad. Here are five lessons the Chinese can teach Americans about smartphones:

Messaging apps as operating systems

In China, a messaging app is much more than a way to text someone that you’re running late for a meeting. It’s a social network for keeping up with friends and celebrities.

But it isn’t just social. It taps into your phone’s GPS, microphone and camera to let you play games, check in to a flight, identify a song, book an appointment, call a cab, pay bills, you name it.

Messaging services like WeChat do so much, they’re kind of like operating systems for your life, as venture-capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz’s Connie Chan recently noted. WeChat hosts millions (yes, millions) of other apps inside its platform, so you can really live your whole life inside WeChat.

It’s convenient to have so much in one app, and the identity verification that WeChat provides makes it easier to use payment services.

The best part? Our colleague Li Yuan says everyone who matters in her life is on the same messaging platform. Since WeChat is fully functional across many phones, you don’t get sucked into the ecosystem of a particular one, like with Apple’s iMessage or Google’s Hangouts. You’d think Facebook would be able to accomplish the same in the U.S.

Phones really are wallets

In China, the tech elite are much more likely to pay for goods and services with their phones because it’s widely accepted, and doesn’t rely on merchants updating clunky old terminals with special technology like Apple Pay.

Apps like WeChat allow you to pay from a mobile wallet (linked to a bank or credit card) without waving your phone over anything. Just pull up the account of the merchant you want to pay, millions of whom live inside WeChat with their own accounts. The equivalent to this in the U.S. would be paying for dinner with Facebook Messenger (a service it’s entirely possible Facebook is working on).

And WeChat has giant competition. Alipay, which started as a PayPal -like system to ensure transactions on giant online marketplace Alibaba, has grown into a flexible replacement for cash in all kinds of settings—paying landlords, bills, friends and so forth. You can earn better interest with it than at a bank or get a loan, stimulating parts of the economy underserved by banks.

A new phone without waiting

Forget not upgrading until your contract is up, or worse, until your phone is broken or on its last legs. The tech savvy in greater China, like our colleague Carlos Tejada, get a new phone nearly every year. Cheaper Android handsets from Xiaomi, Huawei and LeTV (sold often online and without pricey American marketing budgets) combined with contract-free mobile service enable people to always have the latest technology—better screens, processors and cameras.

Even iPhone owners, a colleague told us, sell their phones on the giant secondary market as soon as the new iPhone is announced.

Customization is also part of the upgrade culture. During our visit, Xiaomi had a special on for its omnipresent Mi Note phablets where you could come into its showroom and swap out the glass back for bamboo at no cost.

You don’t have to wait around for the latest software in China, either.

In the U.S., updates to Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy can come as a trickle because the phone maker has to push them first to carriers. In China, Samsung rival Xiaomi bypasses the carrier and pushes out free updates to its MIUI flavor of Android as often as once a week. Avid fans sign up for these frequent updates, beta software that they happily test for Xiaomi. (Regular Xiaomi customers see an update once a month or so.) (KF note: Tell me about it.  AT&T takes forever to push out updates). 

Xiaomi’s system allows superfans to be more involved with generating ideas, and for improvements to come regularly. This includes features like a flashlight you can turn on from the lock screen just by holding the home button.

Could you imagine Apple crowdsourcing ways to improve the iPhone?

Phones are TVs

In China, phones aren’t second-class citizens when it comes to watching shows and movies.

The best stuff is mostly available to stream online. China’s historic challenges with protecting intellectual property have helped the market invent new business models for media. Services like Youku Tudou, iQiyi and Tencent Video convinced many piracy-stricken content owners to join, rather than fight, the demand for online video by making it legitimate and getting paid for it through video advertisements. If you pay, you watch without ads.

Chinese can legally watch recent episodes of “Game of Thrones” free on a video site owned by Tencent, though censors make it considerably less exciting than what Americans see on HBO.

Now China’s online video services are even producing 360-degree virtual reality shows designed for the mobile world. We’re not holding our breath for U.S. TV producers to invest in a VR version of “The Big Bang Theory” anytime soon.  Rest of Article


Anonymous said...

I saw some stuff in the Microsoft Lab that will do away with "physical" phones/tvs etc.

The Chinese might be ahead on the tangible devices and their use, but they have no idea of what is to come!

Anonymous said...

The phones in the American market have been behind—especially compared to the Korean and Japanese markets—for quite some time.

For that matter, we also have what is probably the least consumer-friendly cellular carriers in the world.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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