In an essay from 15 years ago that remains one of the best background pieces on Chinese nationalism that I have ever read, professor Jeremy Barmé of the Australian National University delves into the historical and philosophical underpinnings of this rising ethos.
There is a growing consensus among Beijing-watchers that nationalism has replaced economic development as the primary driver of domestic Chinese politics on the eve of a generational leadership transition. For that reason, there is no better time than now to dive beneath the surface of this phenomenon and understand it from the roots.
I read Barme’s piece with great interest. While I didn’t come away with any profound conclusions, I see what is happening today with somewhat greater clarity. It also helps peer behind the Red Rhetoric of Bo Xilai’s campaigns to see something older and more elemental at work.
GigaOM‘s Darrell Etherington believes that the way for Apple to sustain its dominance in the tablet market in response to challenges from the Kindle Fire is to offer a smaller, cheaper tablet. The case he makes – that a cheap tablet with a tightly integrated “content ecosystem” is the best response – is not a bad one, but it misses the wider point.
The issue with tablets going forward will not be large versus small or high-end versus low-end, but general versus specialized. The iPad, the Motorola XOOM, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab are examples of high-end, tablet format computing devices that are designed to perform an array of tasks. The Kindle Fire, despite the other things you can do with it, is designed to offer a quality book, music, and possibly movie experience. At doing other things, even browsing the web, it is somewhat weaker.
And this is not a bad thing. Not everybody wants a tablet to act like a laptop without a keyboard, and in fact the great untapped opportunity is in finding ways to target the format for specific experiences or vertical markets where the iPad or XOOM would be too much machine for the job.
Back in the Hutong Finally, blogging again 1657 hrs.
As the debate over if, when, and how China will begin to produce global brands continues, someone quipped today that China will start building brands only after it starts creating products people want to buy. That’s a fair point, but I don’t think it goes far enough. As Thys De Beer wrote last year:
In the 1920’s WK Kellogg said: “The purpose of business is not to make a profit. What a dreary and demeaning description. The purpose of business is to add value to people’s lives. The consequence of doing that well is that you make a handsome profit.
Debate that if you will, but I think that Kellogg’s statement reflects
an idea that has yet to germinate among Chinese executives, and that therein lies the core reason why China has yet to produce global brands.