Monday, June 8, 2009

Exploring China SNS, MicroBlog environments and their differences to the west, Ch. 4

Netizens expectation difference between China and the west

Micro blogging service is like a phone line. By itself, it doesn't do anything. What it gives us is a reliable, simple, infrastructure to communicate with members of our community. Hence, the more terminal device it supports, the more useful it is for the users.

Netizens in China generally expects to go online and the service would come with a bunch of content and services to entertain them.
Netizens of the west has a history of regarding online services as "tool" and they are quite prepared and happy to create their own content and community as long as the online service make things easy for them.

Digu, a Chinese twitter service, has added my name to the recommended list a couple of weeks ago. In the first few days after the list goes online, I have 1000+ new followers. I made a point to visit their home page, and find that many new users ask things like "What's there to do here??"

It is like you enter a very clean, well constructed room, in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and you ask the wall "What kind of fun can I have here?"

Imagine a different scenario...
A college student in United States is told there is a empty house available in town for anyone who likes to use it. You just have to bring your friends and activities there.

The difference is: In the west, netizens are used to look at online services as a platform; and they expect themselves to come up with creative ways to make use of the platform to generate benefits that suit them. The expectation that it provides built in entertainment is very minimal.

French Open, Digu 和 Twitter, Photo Blogging 不同的体驗 (from 白社会 diary)

1. 其中一項分别是上載相片工能. 这一点足以給用户不同的体驗.

Photo integration into the message makes Digu more fun and easier in photo blogging.

前兩天是法國网球公開大賽總決賽, 我剛開始實習用Digu wap 做 photo blogging (相片嘀). Nokia 5800 攝拍LCD电視萤幕的 效果真不錯. 照片幾乎有現場的感覺. 今天的智能手机加上方便的相片嘀工能, photo Digu 有推動寫生日常接觸到有趣味的事物. 昨天晚上帶一鼓跟大家分享的熱誠, 又緊張地捕足 Federer 和 Solderling 特殊的表情,希望能容納到这場法网的精絮. 雖然 Twitter 平台有 Twitpic, 但是在 Twitter 不能同時看到大家上載的相片在條文裡,不爽.

The past two days were French Open finals. I have just started to play around with the Digu WAP site and its Photo Digu feature. The Nokia 5800 takes pretty good pictures of my Low Defintion 30" LCD TV. If you don't know I am watching it on TV from home, you may think that I am watching it live in Paris as some of the photos looks as if taken live at Roland Garros.
Check out the photo digus here:
The in message photo feature offers a very different photo micro blogging experience because when you see the list of photo messages shown list on the same page, the story telling effect is much more powerful.

2. 中國微博文化處於 Twitter 早期的用户皆段

Micro blogging in China is similar to the early days of Twitter.

先前雖然知道 Fanfou 这个微博平台, 但先入為主在短短兩个月在 Digu 平台累积了不少聊天和分享的朋友. 这群朋友形成了現時研究的核心, 也是每參舆新SNS服務時都希望邀請的朋友. 人本就是群体動物, 是常理吧.
Fanfou 已上綫兩年. Digu 只上綫三个月, 还在 beta 階段. 新上綫的 social media 平台都需要提供主动和新用戶聊天,幫用戶盡快組織黏度,務求達到不斷更新的習慣.

Even though I know Fanfou has been around, my first experience with micro blogging in China is with the latest entry, Digu. In two months time, I have accumulated a lot of 'friends' in the service and I have become very comfortable in using it throughout the day to chat with and share things with this community. This community has also become the 'core' group whom I will invite when I venture to explore other SNS services in China.

Fanfou has been around for about 2 years and Digu has only been live, still in beta, for about 3 months. The China micro blogging service industry is at a very infancy stage much like Twitter's early days. Again, because of the netizens cultural difference from the west, the Chinese micro blogging SP needs to provide more hand holding to the majority of the users to engage them to develop the habit of publish messages

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Exploring China SNS, MicroBlog environments and their differences to the west, Ch. 3

By now, I am struggling from being overwhelmed by the many choices, and available SNS, blogging and micro blogging services just in China alone. In the west, there are a large number of applications for the purpose of managing and sync'ing your tweets to other blogs, microblogs and SNS such as the Tweetdeck, Twirls, HelloTxt, FriendFeed, etc...
In China, while there are much less third party apps for the tweeter like services such as FanFou, Digu; these services offer their own sync'ing solutions like Hellotxt. One can easily get into an infinite loop situation if not careful in configuring what sync to what.

Last week, I Deleted my Twitter account "kittysanhk' because I got freaked out by the distraction caused by the many 'interesting' tweets from people I followed. I realize the productivity in my research has reached a situation of information overload, and my brain has become so fragmented and my writing/blogging productivity has dropped to ZERO except for the 140 char micro blogging if you call my conversational and occassional sharing of things I read 'blogging'.

I took a time out from Twitter and in a few days my mind seem to settle and I am able to re-focus my research on China's mobile and social media services and the differences with the west.

I started writing in's SNS, called 白社会. It fills a slightly different purpose than this blog. In the 白社会 diary, I feel comfortable to write partial thoughts like I would in the old fashion diary. And that migration fro the 140 char habit, to longer diary entry, clears up my writer's block and allow me to return to this blog post.

My apology for the cut and paste inclusion of my 白社会 diary entry here, some of which are written in Chinese. I will in future include an English translation of the Chinese diaries for this blog.

Translation of my 3rd diary entry in 白社会

June 6, started to explore Fanfou. Fanfou's user interface looks almost identical to Twitter.

I decided NOT to configure 'sync' on any of the social media services. I prefer to use SNS, microblog as a two way conversational relationship with the user community on those services; and not use them as a one way 'broadcast' vehicle.

When I sign on to 白社会 every day, it has a cute feature that asks me to 'punch card', like a worker punch the clock upon arrival at work. Each time I punch the card, I would earn some 'gold coins'. I am still not used to the SNS culture in China where these entertaining features are in their DNA.

I started with 0 follower in FanFou. I wonder how long it would take me to gain the first follower. For the record, I made my first fanfou tweet on June 6, at 5:30pm.

I have used Digu for about 2 months and have 1510 followers as of this afternoon.
I have 0 follower in FanFou. I have re-joined Twitter two days ago and have 12 followers.
I lost a follower in the last hour.. I wonder if it's because today, I tweeted primarily in Chinese.

I updated my Twitter Bio to: Follow me on my journey in exploring SNS, microblog in China and discover the differences with the West.

我的SNS,微博客这兩个月的个人体驗 - 第三回

六月六日,開始飯否旅程..同Twitter UI 一樣...

決定不做同步! 感覺还是做双向溝通那種用户,而不是單向广播的!

还是覺得登陸白社会每天打咔領取5个,10个小金币好挍笑. 内地的SNS都是大家的遊戲室..邊玩邊做傳媒,要慢慢習惯. 難度Learn only when you have fun是这些平台的DNA?

吾知要多久才有飯否用户發現,跟随我呢? 六月六日約5:20pm 在飯否發送第一个信息. 记录

用了Digu兩个月,現有1510跟随者. 在飯否0个跟随者.

剛更新了Twitter的自述: Follow me on my journey in exploring SNS, microblog in China and discover the differences with the West.

Friday, June 5, 2009

白社会 日誌 - 二: 我的SNS,微博客这兩个月的个人体驗

As much as I like to write in Chinese, I must decide between the ability to express my thoughts than the choice of language. I would like to record my experience with SNS thoroughly and my apology that I revert back to English, my more comfortable language for this 2nd diary post.

Someone asks my view on SNS. If I were to sum it up in one sentence, SNS changes my life in many ways. As a Computer Science graduate and high tech professional for my entire career, email and online relationship have been with my entire adult life.

First, it was purely professional use, then it becomes both personal and professional use but within the professional network.

With the introduction of SNS, family and friends are increasingly added to the online network.

And now, we do not only communicate online with people we already know, but often times, we make new friends, contacts of strangers.

With real time micro blogging (Twitter, Digu, Fanfou), we write about what we have for breakfast, our daily schedule, our kids doctor appointments, soccer schedules.. in which we are starting to peek into the lifes of strangers we 'follow'... or the 'daily life' of people we don't normally have a chance to know.

At a certain point in a technology life cycle, we the people take that technology and direct it towards very specific goals and purposes that creates value for us.

Blogs, SNS, micro blogging have entered all of our lives in varying degrees.
Communities are formed around these services.
Decision makings are influenced by our opions of the online communities we belong to.

Being a repatriate from United States and now living in Hong Kong, and starting to spend time in China, the effect and the role of SNS is quite different between the West and China. I'll write about my observation of these differences in my next posting.

白社会 日誌 - 一 : 我的SNS,微博客这兩个月的个人体驗

各位認識我的朋友知道我的中文能力有限. 不过在白社会內我希望盡力用中文. 寫得不好請見谅.

昨天,我删掉了Twitter帳户. 过去四星期,每天安排時間上不同 SNS(Facebook,Linkedin,Wealink),微博客

(Twitter, Digu), 閱讀 blogs, Google Reader feeds; 總是覺得 Twitter 干扰了过往网上研究的集中能力

. 很多following的朋友只是將原來Blog的内容或新聞在Twitter上加以推荐. 发现不知不觉地浪費了不少時間而对研究工作


但是,在Digu微博平台,有聊天的,也有國内新鲜資信,另有表達各種心情和我較少接觸的中國文化, 不同類的Digu朋友,上Digu時的心惰是很舒服.

之前,一直对 Facebook 不感興趣. 相片喜欢從Flickr分享,有時用Vox做mobile photo blogging, 朋友,家人連係

用Email就完全足够. 不过最近參加了香港Media MeetUp group, Facebook 的Group 和 Event 功能就大派用場.

我一直对 Linkedin 的專業性会員质素十分有好感. 也多次被Head Hunter在Linkedin 找到. 最近參加了幾个Discussion Group. 不幸有不少 "discussion" 都是自我推銷个人,产品,服務等..

下回再跟大家分享: 總括这兩个月的經歷的心德..

Generation Mobile Community update

It's been many weeks I haven't posted a new blog here. During these two months, I have buried myself in 'playing' with various SNS and micro blogging services, especially experimenting using these services in China. I flew to UK to attend the ForumOxford and met some wonderful thought leaders in the field of mobile and social media industry.

I have interviewed many people in HK and China in academic, media, IT and social media industries. The goal is explore a practical scope and objective, and , develop the foundation for forming the Generation Mobile Community.

These two months is by far the best time in my entire professional life. I have forgotten what it feels like to do something because you want to do, rather than something you have to do.

During these few months, I have made some wonderful, talented and knowledgeable friends in China, Hong Kong, US, Switzerland and Finland, all of whom added to my understanding of web and mobile social media.

We now have a small team of three industry experts in mobile and social media marketing, and half a dozen Gen-C students, young professionals, entrepreneurs who will be involved in different roles in this community. We plan to have the project web site up this summer (late July, early August) and we will share more with you the things we learn on our web site then.

Next, I would share my experience of using the various social media services both from US and China . I have written these thoughts in two diary entries in 白社会, China's latest SNS which is currently in beta.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

China SNS, mobile internet today, Part 2

How ready is China's mobile users ready for 3G handsets

A recent iResearch research report surveys 3000 China netizens for their awareness, and interest in 3G handset and capabilities. A few major take aways are:
  1. Majority China internet users express 3G handset should be priced at CNY 1000-2000. This group represents mostly the professional working class. Currently, 2G GPRS users represent a much larger number than this professional group and 3G handset maker needs to prepare for even lower ASP in China.
  2. MMS and faster transfer speed are the two major benefits users see in upgrading to 3G.
  3. Operators are still slow in offering MMS service in their monthly plan packages and this slowed the take up rate of 3G even though the infrastructure is ready for larger number of users.
  4. 3G contents and applications are still limited
The still infancy in 3G content/applications, expensive handsets, MMS featured 3G plan still rolling out rather slowly, users are taking a wait and see approach before upgrading to 3G handsets. Netizens in China use Social Network Services primarily for entertainment. Majority netizens use SNS from their PC and much less from the mobile. For applications such as Twitter, Digu to penetrate into China netizens lifestyle, we should be aware that we are only at the early stage of the education process.

Digu "Meet the Bloggers" Social event, April 18, 2009

Yesterday, I was invited to Digu team's "Meet the Bloggers Social" in Shenzhen. The young and highly enthusiastic crowd fills the room with much sharing and excitement. My Mandarin understanding capability hinders my ability to gain more from the session. Dr. Song Li is very kind in sharing a bit more of his vision in English after the presentation, and with the Digu team helping to translate here and there, I am able to gain a fair amount of information afterall. Thanks to the collaborative internet ecosystem, Digu made the slides from Bollin available on slideshare. It's in simplied Chinese so I practice my slightly improved Chinese reading skill and am quite impressed with the vision of the creative mix of usage ideas. You can find the Digu presentation here.

After the presentation, I posed the following question to the group:

"As an active Digu/Twitter user with many followers, what does having ONE account versus having multiple accounts present to you in "issues" and "opportunties".

Dr. Song Li offered his view of using Twitter/Digu as a personal branding opportunity. After using Twitter/Digu for barely 2 months, I agree strongly that many twitter/digu users today are consciously or unconsciously already doing so: building their personal branding.
Bollin, I look forward to your summary of everyone's response.

Readers. I would very much like to hear your comments on this Twitter/Digu identity and privacy matters. I am aware of TwitDeck, Twirl, and the concept of Seesmic Desktop.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

China SNS, mobile internet today, a non traditional Digu user's perspective, Part 1

After three weeks of using Twitter and a week on Digu daily, I observed a distinct difference in the usage behavior between the two services. Twitter has a big community of business users embracing it as part of their marketing strategy. Digu, consistent with most Chinese SNS, is primarily used by individuals as an entertainment channel. Business and technical broadcasting are both uncommon and perhaps unwelcome by the majority SNS users.

How western SNS users use Twitter

Twitter is a three year old service which seem to me has gained explosive growth in the past year. Twitter started out as a realtime short message service that work with multiple networks to overcome the limitations of SMS. Listen for yourself from Twitter founder, Evan Williams, talked about Twitter's explosive growth on the TED show. Evolving beyond individual's chatter about what they are doing 'now', today many businesses, blog sites, trade shows, celebrities as well as TV shows use twitter in very creative and successful marketing efforts. A case in point is my earlier post of theEllenShow twitter page gaining 750K followers in a little over a month. By the way, theEllenShow as of this post has 791K followers, surpassing the twitter page itself which was started over three years ago. Glam Media is launching beta, which follows event streams and Tinker will show you relevant real-time conversations from social media sources like Facebook and Twitter. Combining the use of event twitter page and, event PR agency can generate buzz and engagement marketing opportunities to target audience who wish to follow particular events.

Digu Senior Product manager shed light on China SNS use

Tonight I met up with Mr. Bollin Lai, Digu's senior product manger, in Shenzhen. Mr. Lai received his degree from Beijing University, worked at Xiaonei and ran a web service business prior to joining Digu. I spent most part of my career in the US and only in the past few years focus in Asia Pacific. Our background and experience of the internet and mobile industry cannot be more different and the first half of our meeting you would think we speak foreign language to each other. As opposed to what one may expect that mobile internet users migrate from PC internet users, the two groups are quite separate groups with only about 10% overlap of PC internet users also use mobile internet. This is primarily the professional iPhone, smart phone group of users. The majority of the mobile internet users use simpler featured phones and lower mobile expense. SNS access are primarily from PCs and very little from mobile. GPRS (2G) instead of 3G service is the primary mobile internet access infrastructure.

No urgency for 3G in China, at least not yet

I am surprise do learn that mobile TV in China does not use the GPRS or 3G data network. Instead, mobile handset in China has additional built in hardware capability, separate from mobile operator network, and receives video content from separate broadcasting towers. Lai also commented that the GPRS performance is adequate for much of the services available today. Until larger number of innovative 3G killer applications arrive in the market and drive revenue growth, operators may not be in a hurry to roll out 3G services to every corner in China.

China mobile industry and Tomi Ahonen's Mobile as 7th Mass Media

Since social media marketing, mobile marketing are not common in China yet, it is not surprising that Lai has not heard of many of the mobile business ideas and business models widely written in Tomi Ahonen's books and in practice in the west. We agree to continue our conversation again in the near future and we will explore further how some of the social media and mobile marketing practices in the west may apply in China.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is this a Twitter follower record or not?

I have been testing using both Twitter and Digu watching how western and Chinese users pattern of using micro blogging. The WeFollow twitter directory shows some interesting statistics.

Do you now the Ellen Degeneres Show rocketed to almost three quarters of a million users in a little over a month? Her first tweet was on March 11, 2009. She has posted only 61 updates. Follower count as of this post is at 736,727. Meanwhile, Twitter's own account started the first post in Jul 12, 2007. It has 311 updates and the follower count is at 745,345.

I have spent less than five minutes on the Ellen Degeneres updates. Saw two hilarious video clips of her with other celebrities. This one with Halle Berry is really funny! I quickly added Ellen Degeneres Show to my follow list and already looking forward to see what her next update may bring!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Free content enables near universal access to DIY Learning

Free content, a great contribution to humanity

The title of this blog is Do It Yourself Mobile University, DIY M.U. The idea is that one can educate oneself by making use of the openness of the internet, social network content, mobile content and services that are readily available for free to anyone who seeks the information. This blog was started on March 30, 2009. In just two weeks time, I feel strongly that it is entirely possible for any motivated individual to gain a great deal of learning through online media to a level of competency in any field of discipline as good as traditional education. The availability of free content online compares to the building of libraries and stocking thousands of books that makes better education widely accessible and a great gift to humanity.

Quality web and blog sites and Wikipedia

As far as the content domain is concerned, the abundant availability of quality web sites and blogging sites and the very valuable Wikipedia is in some ways better and much more useful than the university text books I once had. The information is more up to date with today's business case studies that we can relate to. The large number of bloggers having different viewpoints on the same subject matter offers a broader view for the learner to develop non-biased and inquisitive thinking early on. Youtube, slideshare and many more visual, audio tools have made the learning experience multi-dimensional and highly reinforcing.

The more you tell the more you learn

Social networks and free publishing tools enable anyone to easily produce user generated content and exercises both our creative and communicative abilities. Through these channels and opportunities, the like minds connect with each other and further share with and learn from each other.

someone new to blogging and from the point of view of a Web 2.0 layman user, and not as an expert, I am amazed at the amount of knowledge I can gather from online content and the number and quality of people I have met who are eager to both contribute and learn together.

Tomorrow, I'll share what I've discovered so far about some of the business models that successfully use free content strategy to create alternative revenue streams that otherwise would not be there.

Talking Mobile : Making your hotel booking from your mobile

Last October, Tomi Ahonen and I met with a mobile data only MVNO service provider. As of 2008, there were few MVNOs in Asia and hardly any mobile data CRM applications. With 3G deployment gathering pace, mobile internet and location base services are fast reaching the tipping point of consumer applications. We discussed a great deal about identifying what silos are suitable for mobile CRM. GPS enabled travel booking seemed an obvious choice. Six months later and here we are! The UK Travelodge has launched GPS room booking from 3G iPhones. You can read the full story here. I expect we'll see similar service available in Asia not long from now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

FREE, the new business model!

From FREE razors, printer, to newspaper and even iPhone app classes

Since this blog is written both for my own learning as well as for those who are new to mobile content business and mobile marketing, it is helpful to repeat using some sources of information in different context as we explore different issues and subjects of learning.

The Generation Mobile Community grows up with FREE content widely available at their finger tips. In the Feb 25 issue of WIRED magazine, Chris Anderson discusses FREE in today's business model. In fact, offering FREE product/content is not an invention of the internet. The razor blade industry has been offering FREE razors since many decades ago and making billions in razor blades. And I would add that the printer industry has been selling printers as cheap if not cheaper than buying the replacement ink cartridges. FREE content offering is most intensified in the media industry. In 2007, the New York Times went free and is paid off as traffic increases substantially. According to CNET news, on March 10, the British newspaper, the Guardian, announced it's launching an open platform designed to offer third parties free access to its content and data, in exchange for carrying the publication's advertising. Today, I stopped by my local 3 mobile operator and check on my husband's last month's billing details and realized that he had spent HKD 98 for the month on 3G data mostly for reading NYTimes on the Nokia N82 while traveling on MTR. The FREE content economy has shifted the revenue model and the more FREE content become available to the mass public, the greater the growth of mobile data and mobile advertising revenue to come.

FREE iPhone application online course from Stanford

This month, Stanford announces a FREE iPhone application development online course for the public. For those who wish to learn to develop iPhone apps, you can now do it from the comfort of your own home or even on the road as long as you have a connected device with WiFi or mobile data connectivity.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Generation Mobile Community, update

Mobile payment as a currency, sampling Malaysia, Philippines vs. HK

In my past 5 years of working in Asia Pacific, I've experienced first hand the use of mobile technology and wi-fi hotspots in the different economies in Asia. Four years ago when I was working at a Starbucks in KL, I am able to pay for Wi-Fi hotspots using my Maxis mobile prepaid sim card. For RM 5.0 a day, I can have unlimited wifi for 24 hours. Three years ago when I was in Manila, my partner gave me a prepaid SIM to use during my stay. At the end of the trip, my partner told me I can transfer the balance of the SIM card to one of their mobile numbers. So no remaining balance go to waste. I thought how convenient! I wonder if and when would Hong Kong mobile operators integrate more payment features into their service. Hong Kong however does have a unique environment where the Octopus card, the smart card which is used to pay from transportation to groceries to fast food, is so successful and pervasive that can raise the hurdle of other electronic payment options.

Web Wednesday and my first SMS marketing participation experience

The journey to discover digital media and mobile industry players in Hong Kong led me to Web Wednesday. Web Wednesday Hong Kong is started by Napolean Biggs, an internet marketing and digital media specialist. In less than a year, Web Wednesday has already attracted 1100 members according to Women in Publishing Hong Kong (WiPS) list serv. In its brief history, Web Wednesday has managed to organize high quality speakers, and good turnouts in the mothly social mixer. The meetings are generally on 1st Wednesday of the month. This month, in order to fit in schedule of speaker Matt Mullengweg, founder of WordPress, the social mixer is held on a Tuesday, April 7 (tonight). Details of tonight's event can be found here.
To promote Mobile Marketing, Web Wednesday also started running mobile marketing campaign Quiz using SMS shortcode. I will update the blog after the event tonight on how many participants we get on this campaign. All I know is I have spent HKD 2 for the chance of winning the prize tonight. Wish me luck!

The journey begins...

Tomorrow, I will have the opportunity to stand in front of 80 college students in Hong Kong to promote the Generation Mobile Community project. This is the first phase of the project which involves conducting surveys of young people 16 - 29 on their habits, understanding their use of social networks, web 2.0 user generated content technologies, mobile technology, and awareness as well as experience in mobile marketing.

Update after April 7 Web Wednesday

The turn out for this month's Web Wednesday is another success. There must be close to 200 people packed at Volar in LKF. Bigg is a fantastic speaker and did a great job in the interview with the rather shy Matt Mullenweg from WordPress. I thought the interview is well balanced to let members understand about WordPress product and business positioning in Asia. Thanks to HyperFactory, an international mobile marketing specialist, the mobile SMS quiz added mobile entertainment with prizes for the audience. There are 40 SMS entries to the quiz on site. Is 20% a high or low response rate?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Moms, internet communities, iPhone a new best friend

Dedicated to the moms of the Generation-C (C for Community!)

Thank god this is still Sunday so I can write more freely, sidetrack from mobile, community, learning topic.

Getting ready for Silicon Valley mom life style

A very good friend who has been a colleague at Sun in Hong Kong, who becomes even closer friend post Sun days, has decided to move back to California in June to settle in Palo Alto. First I wish her well and (email) introduce a cleaning lady contact to her so she can get some help since she will be without her maids and chauffeur in Shanghai and join the Silicon Valley soccer mom club doing much drivings for her 11 year old's to be very busy schedule; hence hers!
Next, I wish to take care of the family dining need. In a recessionary environment and not want to compromise the quality of dining, Osteria, my favorite Italian restaurant at very reasonable price, comes immediate to mind. If you ever visit Palo Alto, you MUST give this a try. Reservation is a must as there is little chance to get a table for walk ins.

iPhone, Silicon Valley mom's new best friend

Gmail and google maps on the iPhone are completely indispensable to me who has absolutely no sense of direction. Google maps on the iPhone is quite smart, knows my home address after I use it once, guess accurately in high percentage the places I want to go but don't really know the name or where it is? If I plan ahead, I will do Google maps and direction on the internet from home and send the direction to my gmail before I leave the house. When I am driving, I open up my gmail and whoa la! the driving direction is right there. Of course I will add the phone number to the gmail I sent myself so I can do one touch of the phone number in email and it rings the place of where I am going. Be sure to use the hands free headphone when use iPhone in the car! It is the law or you will get a ticket and fined!

No more tears! Move announcement: June 10, from Kitty's physical to online network

When I left Hong Kong in 1980s for my university education in US, the airport scene was teary! I felt both excited of my new life, and yet sad to leave my family, friends and my love. The internet community has changed all that. Emails has kept many of us in touch despite of distance, change in job, change in city as each of our lives take us to a separate path. In my own circle, the 30 something, 40 something crowds are increasingly joining social network sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc. I think the important thing is how we choose to use the social network and be mindful of what type of information you input and upload to them. For me, I am glad to use both email and social network sites to not only keep in touch with friends, but also continue to grow the friendship which these sites have made possible. Another benefit of participating in social networks is people generally post positive happenings. I am happy to learn about William's Coldplay concert experience, saw the incredible photos he took of his model car projects, and Napoleon's twit of yesterday's hiking give such positive stimulation to the otherwise idle mind.

Conscientious use of social networks

Use your social network site for positive expression. There are too much 'fear' generated by the media today. Eric Schmidt in Charlie Rose's interview has another nice quote. Schmidt says, "know where the NO button is". There is too much information out there. It can overwhelm even the most intelligent person.

Weekend blog: Badminton Social

No work on the weekend

Honoring the weekend being free, I think the blog on Saturday and Sunday should be free from constraint of the normal topics. Today, I'll share with you a nice story of a Hong Kong young entrepreneur.

The value of face to face social community, the fun stuff

Tonight I attended a badminton social organized by the parents of the Tutoring Center where my husband, Paul, works. During breaks, I met the owner of the Tutoring Center. He is a young man in his mid twenties. In the past few years, he was studying in the University of Polytechnics Hong Kong full time while running his own business past two years, the tutoring center. His center though small but business thrive and expanding. He just graduated with a major in Marketing. He hires extremely high quality teachers and I learned tonight some of the students live very far away from the center.

Hong Kong parents place high value in teacher quality, no surprise!

I asked one of the parent why travel so far. She said good teachers are important and worth the travel.

Seizing the moment to learn from our university Marketing graduate

I shared with this young business owner the DIY M.U. project and where we are in terms of content research, survey status, sponsorship status, etc.. He gets it quick probably with advantage of his business experience and design business involvement besides being a Marketing student. Later, it darns on me that I am looking at one of the perfect Marketing student that can help with understanding HK's education system's preparation for our future Marketing professional. He is thrilled to hear about Web Wednesday HK. He does not seem to involve much with the Multi Media Lab in the Polytechnics. I know the founder of an Australian mobile internet startup, Mostyle, who had worked in this Multi Media Lab a few years ago. I hope to meet up with these labs and learn more about their program.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Free flow of communication and information lead to explosive creation

Yesterday I blogged about Alan Moore's view of free flow of communication and information brings benefit to the entire society. Victor Keegan, a technology columnist, from the Guardian has a piece today on the tug of wall between operators and content providers.

When operators recently started opening their walled gardens to content creators, it resulted in an explosion of creativity with the iPhone alone generating 25,000 applications. Think what would happen if the cost of making a telephone call anywhere in the world were next to nothing. It would set the scene for a fresh explosion of creativity across the globe - recession or no recession

The prospects for mobiles on the web could be hugely boosted if the forthcoming Ofcom auction of spectrum spawns ubiquitous super-fast access via Wi-Fi. That would boost the likes of Truphone and Google, and also Nokia - which must be planning for the day when operators lose their oligopolistic grip on the market.

Last week Skype overtook AT&T as the biggest provider of cross-border calls, according to TeleGeography.
But the next mobile giant to take note is Google. Google has 97% of mobile search market.

Talking Mobile

You can now have full skype features on iPhone
My Swiss friend happened to skype chat with me from his phone while in biz trip.
3 offers Asia wide data roaming flat rate @hkd 138 per day
My friend in Singapore says his 3 from Singapore is SGD 30/day, so about same price.
China Telecom signs up 10,000 in 4 days during free USB modem in 3G trial (CDMA-EVDO)
The freebie value by HK market: 3 in HK sells the USB HSDPA modem from hkd 780 - 980.
SamSung NC310 (HSDPA netbook) estimated HKD 5000 to hit HK in May
Compare to NC10, this one comes with 11 hr battery and HSDPA built in modem
I hope they give an option of English Windows. They lost my sale last week because NC10 in HK comes with only Chinese Windows.

Happenings in Hong Kong, a mobile soccer game

Hong Kong base Artificial Life Signs License Deal With German Soccer Team VfB Stuttgart
Yeah! A mobile soccer game!! This calls for celebration.

The True Promise of the Mobile Society

Alan Moore is a well known writer, thinker and public speaker. He also co-authored two best selling books in mobile marketing:
Communities Dominate Brands, and Social Media Marketing. In this 2008 Telecommunications interview, he offers his view on the true promise of the mobile society. Here's a transcript of this short interview.

His view offers an important balance in humanity as we become an every increasing digital and mobile society. The
true promise of the mobile society is really in understanding that if we were able to connect and share knowledge and information which allows people to conduct their lives which they previously are not able to (in a positive way).

The mobile society is as much an ecosystem and not just about technology.
We can achieve that if we can create things that can meet a fundalmental human need, whether it is in health improvement resulting from enhanced communication, or more transparent democracy or fun things which improve human relationships.

Some examples

In SE Asia, text mesages
empowers poor farmers
Mobile Revolution in Africa lifts poverty and save lives

Technology when it's really successful disappears
. It becomes a utility.

Moore uses the example of paper. No one today looks at paper as a technology anymore though it once was. A UN study points out that by laying IT infrastructure in the society, has brought benefits to the commercial success of the society more than anything else. We have to see it like a utility in a way like we turn on water and it just runs. We become very upset if it does not.
By limiting the flow of communication and information, it limits that society's growth.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Life in Web 2.0, MeetUp your local groups in Hong Kong

Ride the change but lead the way

It is always my opinion that we cannot resist change as it is human nature to continue the search of excellence, efficiency and satisfaction. Gone are the days we finish school, come home meet the kids outside our home to play outdoor before homework and dinner. Web 2.0 brings about online social networks where we meet new friends, join interest groups, network for jobs, promote our products and services to a global community, all from the comfort of our own home.

Learn a foreign language for FREE by using language exchange service

I have started doing language exchange with a Korean college student online using Skype last year. With Skype voice and Skype chat, and a little Hyundai mp3 recorder, we have been quite successful in teaching each other our respective mother tongue. Ok, I did watch *a lot* of Korean soap opera for 3 months and it helps! While looking for language exchange partners in Hong Kong, I stumbled upon a Cantonese-English Language Exchange organized using a service called MeetUp.

Global online social network to local face-to-face social network

While Facebook, MySpace, Twitter type social network services aims to facilitate social networking globally online, MeetUp has a very unique and welcomed design goal! It facilitates local groups that share common interests to 'meet up'. As Facebook like services allows friends who are far apart and stay connected, MeetUp allows strangers who are in our local neighbourhood to form small local communities to meet "face to face" and enjoy common interest.

Two funnies for your health

For a good laugh, MeetUp CEO would like to show you "Working at MeetUp vs. Working at Google"
The message board for MeetUp Cantonese-English group has an interesting language learning video. If you are a Cantonese speaker, you must be over 18 to watch this youtube video.

Let me call you from my Moputer

No battle for netbook and smart phone for your wallet

The merge of mobile and computer into one device is right around the corner, or did we already turn the corner? Shelly Palmer of MediaBytes reports Hewlett-Packard is considering replacing the Microsoft OS in some of its mini-laptops (aka Netbooks) with software developed by Google. It could be a version of Android -- the company's cellphone software.

With the touch screen mobile phones designed to give users a better viewing experience, we see the form factor of the mobile handsets are no longer small is better. With the netbook introduction, "laptops" are coming down in price and form factor. Last week, I bought my Lenovo S10e for under HKD 4000 and my husband, Paul, bought his Nokia N82 for HKD 4200 last year. I use the netbook for wifi access, reading ebooks, and writing notes on trains and meetings. Paul uses his N82 to do mobile blogging, reading ebooks and NYTimes when traveling on trains. If I need a photo taken, I ask him to take it from his N82 because it has a nice 5mega pixel camera. Paul is debating if and when to buy the HP mini netbook, which is also under HKD 4000. If you know Paul, you know that debate can be months long research and shopping and testing equipments from Mong Kok to Causeway Bay.

Last week while at Hong Kong Timesquare Broadway Electronics store, I saw a LG X110 netbook with built in HSDPA. The price is about HKD 1000 higher than other brandname netbooks without the HSDPA feature. Go to this forum for more information about the LG X110.
There may be other HSDPA-enabled netbooks in Hong Kong that I haven't come across. This itechnews link has a review on Acer, ASUS, SamSung, MSI HSDPA-enabled netbooks.

Google says: Go Mobile, Follow the Mobile

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt says: the future is Mobile

If you have not watched Google CEO's interview on Charlie Rose yet, this is a must watch.

In the interview, Schmidt keeps driving home the point mobile is the future.
"Fast forward a few years from now, with the content and capability of sophisticated mobile phones, and with a new generation of applications. We expect eventually the majority of the uses of the internet will be on the mobile phones. Mobile phone usage is growing faster than personal computers. There are many more of them on the order of 4B in the world. In our lifetime, at least 5B or 5.5B of the population will have mobile phones. Emerging markets like China and India are growing phenomenally." After a series of questions from Charlie Rose ranging from topics in content publishing, advertising, privacy, social networks, micro payment, Google Earth, Google Latitude, digital divide, etc... Eric Schmidt continues, "The real story is going to be the mobile phone."

Hong Kong mobile data plans, my pathetic story!

O.K. I am cheap! Well, may be not! I do own an iPhone. However, it is in California with my trusted engineering friend who often help me test all things mobile internet from the US. It has cost me USD 2000 for the entire contract with AT&T so I am reluctant to buy another iPhone in HK just yet. Finally, I bought my netbook few days ago, determined to subscribe or get a mobile internet data plan to go with the netbook. After in Timesquare's Fortress for over an hour, three other people had bought the iPhone come and gone, and I am still trying to figure out the best and most affordable mobile data plan for my netbook and my Ericsson 3G phone. Bottom line is there are so many different plans, some prepaid and some monthly plan with contract. Some works for computer only, some works for both computer and mobile handset. Some daily cap, some monthly cap. Some need to buy a separate HSDPA modem, some rebate the cost of the modem when sign a 12 month contract. I am not afraid of numbers in general but I was exhausted after comparing all the plans in 3 and Smartone. Proudly holding my new netbook, but sadly I went home without a 3G data plan, feeling something is just not right.

Follow the mobile and everything else will follow

And next day Tomi incidentally send me this article from a Google guy who speaks to my heart! Thank you, thank you, Vic Gundotra. To all 3G operators in Hong Kong, I dedicate this article, Follow the Mobile, to you from the bottom of my heart!

Flat is the new phat

Flat rate data plan (I add afforable, HKD 400/month is NOT quite afforable), encourages data usage and leads to customer satisfaction.

"Consider MetroPCS, a regional carrier in the United States with just over 5 million subscribers on their 2.5G CDMA network. Over the past year, their Google search volume grew over 2.5x more quickly than another global carrier with 10 times as many users, and a 3G network."

Metro’s “secret” is a free month of web access at signup, with the option of flat-rate, unlimited data thereafter. As a result nearly half of Metro’s subscribers use the web on a regular basis. (It’s also worth mentioning that MetroPCS was recently recognized for excellence in customer satisfaction.

In contrast, many operators subject users to a labyrinthine set of data options, from pay-as-you-go to daily caps with significant overage charges. Now, can you imagine paying your at-home internet provider for every page load? Or needing to know the size of a website before visiting it? Or managing your monthly download quota across your entire household? It’s simply not practical, and it’s all the same internet, so why do we treat mobile users as second-class citizens? Case and point: my colleague’s January phone bill contained 27 pages of itemized data charges, spelled out in excruciating detail.

A mobile gadget for you lucky mo-surfers: Bolt mobile browser

If you are one of the lucky ones who has a cool 3G phone and unlimited data plan, here's a great gadget,
Bolt mobile browser, that can handle mobile video streaming smoothly. New users climb past 300,000 for the first month of beta is worth checking out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Made in Hong Kong, Happenings in Hong Kong

Kanchoo, a Simple and Elegant iPhone app for premium news publishing

Today, I met with Kanchoo, a Hong Kong base startup, and got a life demo of their content management system and the Kanchoo native iPhone application. The web based Content Management System is very easy to use. A news media person will take no time to learn how to enter news categories and articles into the CMS. Within minutes of "Publishing" the newly added articles, the content shows up beautifully on the iPhone. The Kanchoo application has all the nice reader features one expects from reading news on the iPhone. Their web site has a good summary and video demo. The product is scheduled to launch in May. Please wish them the best of success! It is made in Hong Kong!!

Who can use Kanchoo? If you are a news media, government agencies, academic institutions who have a steady volume of news publication and wish to delivered on the iPhone without worrying about the technical know how, Kanchoo can be your answer!

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, on Charlie Rose Mar 06, 2009 tip #1

The interview has so much good information that I had taken 4 hours to watch the video in many pauses and written almost a full transcript of the interview. Over the next few weeks, I will take apart Schmidt's insight and views on various topics from this interview and apply to the topics discussed in this blog.

#1 How to decide the approach to monetize user generated content?

Since I just met with Kanchoo today, I thought I'll mention a few related comments from Schmidt on the topic of content publishing. Schmidt echoed many content publishers struggle in the challenge in monetizing user generated content. Schmidt categorize user generated content into three groups. If content has a massive audience, well he uses a really massive number: 20 Billion, then advertising is the way to go. If audience is "smaller", say 20 millions, he suggests using micro payment. The micro payment can be in the form of 1 cent, 3 cents, 5 cents for a viewing. If the content is of high premium value, such as research report contents. They have a very small audience but content is of high value to them, and those businesses or individuals likely can afford to pay for the specialized content. This third category is best to use subscription charge.

Well, the beauty of democracy and freedom of speech is it allows varying views to be expressed and heard. Wired Magazine 16.03 has an interesting and yet somewhat extreme view of the future of business, not constrained to content publishing. FREE! Why $0.00 is the future of business.

Web Wednesday, a social mixer for digerati of Hong Kong

Also learned today that Web Wednesday Hong Kong's next social is next Tuesday, April 7! Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress will be speaking about "The Bare, Naked Realities of Blogging". Click here for more information on Web Wednesday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why this blog? DIY Mobile University in Hong Kong

The journey to discover and share mobile information in Hong Kong

Have you had an experience when you have a great passion on an idea and find that there was hardly any information available in print or online media? I must say I have taken for granted that anything I am interested to learn about, there's always more information on the web than I can manage to study. However this is not so true about mobile technology and businesses in Hong Kong. Having a great deal of interest in mobile work and living in Hong Kong, it seems starting this blog can benefit many like myself. Here's a journey that focus on mobile information in Hong Kong, but will undoubtedly touch on regional mobile stories for a more comprehensive view of Hong Kong mobile industry.

A note of thanks to Tomi Ahonen

The last time I had a mentor is when I started working for Sun Microsystems in 1988. I knew how having a mentor can make a huge difference in shaping the path and growth both in our personal as well as professional domains.
Tomi is known by many in the world as a visionary in mobile industry. As a debut of this blog, it is only fair for me to say my thanks publicly to Tomi who has been so generous in offering his insights, knowledge and most importantly, encouragement to anyone who has a passion on any idea domain to be free to explore and experiment the world of blogging. "It's the people whom you'll meet and their comments and sharing that result from your blogging that makes it rewarding."

Where does technology belong in media in Hong Kong?

It was an unexpected place but I am happy all the same to find out about the major local media companies in Hong Kong from this BBC page on Hong Kong dated Dec 2008.

Having come back to Hong Kong from Silicon Valley, it's a habit to look for the technology section in the newspaper. Having looked through all the local newspapers listed at this BBC page, I found SCMP has a weekly Technology section. The Standard online technology section has two articles both dated early March. The Chinese papers do not have a separate technology section. The 20 minutes research tells me that this journey is going to be fun and exciting because it'll be challenging!

Talking mobile

There is an iPhone Application Development training class, April 20-22, 2009, in Hong Kong offered by JadeTower, a Hong Kong base technology startup. Disclaimer: I have not met the folks in this company nor taken this training before. But I will be meeting up with them soon and having a look at some of the iPhone technologies they are launching.

Better be late than never.
We just missed the 2nd Mobile Film Festival in Hong Kong last week. Here's the site to watch all the award winning mobile films this year.
Note that these productions are not meant to be generated using the mobile. Rather, these are either short films (3 min) or movie trailers formatted for viewing on the mobile handsets. I hope in the future, the festival will shift towards more mobile generated films.

"Empowering 100 youths to join the fastest growing industry in the world: mobile"

This week, I am start a multi months research to interview students and practitioners in Hong Kong's academic world hoping to learn a few things.

1. What are young people's interest and what motivates them to explore and learn new things
2. What are their views in using mobile to "express" themselves.
3. What tools do they know and what experience do they have to do mobile contents?

I encourage young people to think of the mobile as a utility that influence their everyday way of life. They can expand their relationship to the mobile handset to not limit themselves to be just users. Rather, the mobile is a creative tool which they can both express themselves personally, engage with the industry commercially, and their future work place will see large number of jobs requiring mobile technology skills.

DIY Mobile University, build by the community, use by the community

There are plenty of tools for those with creativity to build user generated content on the web already. The mobile application development industry is growing fast and they too will have many tools to create user generated content for the mobile.

Drop us a comment to share with us any mobile tools and stories that you have.
There is no mobile focus university program today that gives a comprehensive curriculum to train our young minds to become a mobile professional. The Generation-C, a concept well elaborated in Communities Dominate Brands, grow up acquiring much of their knowledge from the internet and mobile services. Why not let the community take the first step in helping to build a DIY Mobile University so Generation-C can have a place to start preparing themselves for the fast growing mobile industry which is in great shortage of mobile skilled workers. We'll do our bit here in this blog to contribute pieces of learning we gathered by taking a close look at HK as well as Asia Pacific mobile industry developments.