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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Apple’s Shifting Supply Chain Creates Boomtowns in Rural Vietnam – Bloomberg – Vietnam is becoming the new China. While China has been impacted by problems of its own making, resulting in diversification of supply chains and trade disputes. This Vietnam build-out feels very much like build out in China during the late 1990s and the early 2000s after China joined the World Trade Organisation. Vietnam is now likely to experience double-digit growth. Hopefully Vietnam will climb up the value chain in a similar way to China. Vietnam is already a great place to develop software and applications. More Vietnam related posts here.

Apple develops alternative to Google search | Financial Times“Any reasonable search engine has to have 20bn-50bn pages in its active index,” Mr Ramaswamy said. When a user runs a query, the retrieval system must sift through vast troves of data then rank them in milliseconds. Some observers still dismiss the idea of Apple creating a complete search rival to Google. Dan Wang, associate professor of business at Columbia Business School, said it would be “extremely difficult” for Apple ever to catch up. “Google’s advantage comes from scale,” he said, as the endless user feedback helps to tune results and identify areas of improvement. “Google gets hundreds of millions of queries every minute from users all over the world — that’s an enormous advantage when it comes to data.” – Apple needs search for its app store, mapping services, media services and even on device. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple will do a ‘Google’

Army of avatar robots readies to invade Japanese job market – Nikkei Asia – stocking shelves in a FamilyMart

Apple develops alternative to Google search | Financial Times – explains Apple’s massive amount of overcapacity in their datacentre space for the past decade as they built around the world

Chinese retailer Miniso beats Uniqlo and Muji at their game – Nikkei Asia – interesting profile of Miniso. What becomes apparent is how Luckin Coffee has poisoned the well with investors for Chinese retailing businesses

Surveillance Startup Used Own Cameras to Harass Coworkers | Vice News – not terribly surprised that this was in their sales team. It fits right in with the sales cultures I have known

25 Years In Speech Technology. …and I still don’t talk to my computer. | by Matthew Karas | Oct, 2020 | Medium – great essay on voice technology on computers (including smartphones)

German spy chief Gerhard Schindler: China is poised to dominate the world | World | The TimesGerhard Schindler, who led the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) from 2011 to 2016, said Germany needed to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing and ban Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network. He also warned that Angela Merkel’s liberal approach to the 2015 migrant crisis had left Germany with a “large reservoir” of young Muslim men susceptible to violence and jihadist ideology, and that the true scale of the danger was only now becoming clear.

UK risks road rage with China in Africa – POLITICOUnited States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy told a Congressional hearing in 2019 that Washington was “weaponizing” its African embassies “to confront China on a whole range of issues, most prominently a commercial one.” Westcott, from the Royal Africa Society, pointed out that Britain was so far aiming to maintain its own influence in Africa rather than reduce Chinese influence — but that it could take a more aggressive approach in future, for example attempting to outbid China for projects.

How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine – The New York TimesThe Epoch Times was a small, low-budget newspaper with an anti-China slant that was handed out free on New York street corners. But in 2016 and 2017, the paper made two changes that transformed it into one of the country’s most powerful digital publishers. The changes also paved the way for the publication, which is affiliated with the secretive and relatively obscure Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, to become a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation. First, it embraced President Trump, treating him as an ally in Falun Gong’s scorched-earth fight against China’s ruling Communist Party, which banned the group two decades ago – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I see this as a failure of liberal politicians engaging with a plurality of opinions about China.

The Belt and Road Strategy Has Backfired on Xi | Palladium MagazineThe Belt and Road is less a geoeconomic power play than a marketing strategy. Few of the myriad projects and investment schemes labeled ‘Belt and Road’ exist because of the initiative as such. Grand strategists in Beijing did not cause the tremendous outbound flows of money, men, and material that comprise Belt and Road, and they cannot direct it either. What statesmen like Xi Jinping do have power to influence is how these flows are understood and perceived by the world

How Did China Beat Its Covid Crisis? | by Ian Johnson | The New York Review of Books – ambiguous lessons on handling COVID-19

WeChat ban a catch-22 for Chinese Australians – The China Storysome members of the Chinese Australian community have created parallel chat groups on WhatsApp, Letstalk, Line or Telegram in case of a local WeChat ban. But they continue to be drawn back to WeChat as their main social media platform. Why do members of the Chinese diaspora choose to self-censor when they have many other options available? The answer may lie in platform affordances available in WeChat as well as techno-material features of the app that produce ‘habits’, engender ‘necessity’ and provide users with a sense of ‘vitality’.

Inside Out: China’s Forgotten Domestic Politics – The China Story – China digging itself into a soft power hole

Adobe’s new AI experiment syncs your dance moves perfectly to the beat | The Next WebI was thinking about the effect that quantisation had on music software in the early 1990s which allowed for perfect beat synching (in theory, though MIDI and USB could throw that off slightly

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 7 minutes

From Supreme to Gucci: How North Face uses big-name collaborations to drive ‘brand heat’ – GlossyTim Hamilton, North Face’s head of global creative, said it typically does two collaborations per year, at most. In addition to its upcoming collab with Gucci, North Face has an ongoing collab with Supreme that started in 2015. And it released collabs with athletic brand Brain Dead and MM6, the sportswear line of Maison Margiela, in August.  Hamilton said the brand’s collaborations typically require a lead time of 1-2 years and are almost always manufactured and produced by North Face. The MM6 collab, for example, began with discussions between Hamilton and the Margiela design team in 2019. – This lead-up time probably explains the balance in their collabs between hype and steadier brands. Hence no Virgil Abioh or Yeezy deal with North Face. Abioh has flirted with Canadian technical brand Arcteryx; which is owned by Chinese sports and outdoor clothing conglomerate Anta – who have a lot of cash. It is interesting that nothing has come from Abioh’s visual love letter so far.

Op-Ed | New Balance Collabs Are Second to None This YearNew Balance places an emphasis on “aligning with brands that are authentic in their space and have substance behind their message.” New Balance’s roster of collaborators represent a wide range of aesthetics, communities, and subcultures, meaning the brand can speak to a variety of consumers based on what product has been matched with which collaborator. In a sense, putting together a New Balance sneaker collaboration is like a game of exquisite corpse. “We’re able to keep product executions and stories fresh while creating different followings for each type of partnership,” – you could argue that adidas and Nike’s deals with Yeezy and Off-White relegate adidas and Nike to little more than original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). But New Balance also doesn’t have the deep pockets to go up against adidas and Nike head-on. That lack of deep pockets also affects North Face as well. I am surprised that the North Face and New Balance haven’t collaborated, though part of the issue maybe New Balance’s Danner Boots business. This competes somewhat with North Face’s boots business, but they have a very different aesthetic appealing to a different audience. North Face is owned by VF Corporation with sister brands Dickies, Timberland and JanSport. This means that brand collabs for North Face are probably complex politically.

A millennials love affair: China’s second-hand luxury goods market booms | Reuters – yes Chinese like new things like new apartments. Yes but: Chinese luxury consumers have become more sophisticated. Chinese consumers have travelled and seen the pre-owned market like Milan Station and BRAND OFF in Hong Kong and Japan respectively. In absolute terms middle class wages are lower in China still than the US; yet this isn’t reflected in luxury product pricing

Alibaba Takes Over China’s Top Hypermart Chain for $3.6 Billion – Bloomberg – interesting that Alibaba is working on an offline retail strategy

Robert Lighthizer Blew Up 60 Years of Trade Policy. Nobody Knows What Happens Next. — ProPublica – I am not normally interested in publishing about politics, but this article on US trade policy is an interesting starting point to think about the current debacle

Revisiting Lyn Collins’ “Think About It” – Micro-Chop – great essay. Its also good to see how the edits of Ultimate Breaks and Beats played a role in popularising the ‘think’ break

Hong Kong walks: discovering traditional, trendy Tai Hang | Financial Times – it makes me ‘home sick’ as Hong Kong island was my home for a while

Baaaa for business: Princess Diana’s iconic sheep sweater is back | Financial Times – its interesting that luxury brands are now raiding not just archives but childhood memories for cues. Also the convoluted customer journey outlined in the article for the original purchase via a bridesmaid’s mother

Debate over vegan ‘sausages’ and ‘burgers’ heats up ahead of EU vote | Financial Times – unsurprising given the size of the beef and pork industries in the European Union

WPP back on hunt for deals, says chief | Financial TimesRead’s challenge is to win back investors who think agency holding groups are struggling with multiple structural tests: cost-cutting and clients taking business in-house, competition from consultancies such as Accenture, and waning clout as middlemen in digital ad markets dominated by Google and Facebook. WPP’s share price is 65 per cent lower than its 2017 peak, and has fallen more than a third since the pandemic battered the economy. The three-year decline is a more severe than at rivals such as Omnicom and Publicis. Meanwhile, investors have flocked to the simpler growth story of adtech providers such as The Trade Desk, which this year has soared to almost three times WPP’s market value on a tiny fraction of its revenues. The £2bn market capitalisation of Sir Martin’s S4 Capital, a digital-only advertising group, is almost a quarter of WPP’s value even though it generated less than three per cent of its £12.4bn sales in the year to June 30.  – a number of things from this interview. The Trade Desk has a lot of heat around it, WPP attempted to do this with Xaxis but has got little credit. Read tried to spin that Accenture and WPP have sweet spots at different points in the economic cycle. Hence the comment about Accenture being good at cutting marketing costs.

Mr Read’s pitch is that WPP has combined its traditional creative strength with the tech expertise to build ecommerce platforms for clients such as Sainsbury’s, and become the single biggest integrator of Adobe’s software. “Our goal is to be to revenue growth what Accenture is to cost reduction,”

Chinese-Americans campaign for Trump on WeChat | Financial Timesit is becoming increasingly difficult to organise on WeChat, not only because of the looming US ban but also because of Chinese censorship. Simple WeChat filters for sensitive terms such as “democracy” can detect articles about US politics. Sometimes when Mr Ming sends articles to his groups, those with Chinese-registered phone numbers on their WeChat accounts cannot receive the links, no matter where they are in the world. Ms Wen, who used WeChat in 2016 to organise a door-knocking campaign for Mr Trump, was glad to shift away from the platform this year. “I know it is completely surveilled. Nowadays I mostly use Telegram,” she said, referring to the encrypted messaging app. – interesting move to Telegram, mirrors what I saw in my Hong Kong friend network after the Hong Kong National Security law was passed

Google’s new ‘hum to search’ feature can figure out the song that’s stuck in your head – The Verge – now this is clever

The future of fashion week? Look to Shanghai | Vogue BusinessShanghai Fashion Week, which pioneered digital pivots like live streaming, returns today as a largely physical event, featuring around 90 brands across a number of venues, including its main stage in fashionable shopping district Xintiandi and emerging designer platform Labelhood

How to steer clear of discounts this holiday season | Vogue Business“Markdowns have almost single-handedly ruined our industry,” says Hewitt. “They train the consumer not to buy in-season because they can come back in three months and get a discount. It’s a vicious cycle.” – during the 2008 recession Rolex reputedly bought back watches in its retail and wholesale channels. And then recycled them

Kibbles & Bytes #1122: Apple Releases Four iPhone 12 Models and the HomePod mini – Don Mayer nails the assessment of 5G in the latest edition of his newsletter.

Why a new generation of challenger brands need to rethink how to challenge | A Little West of Centre – Blands. That’s what Ben Schott, writing for Bloomberg, coined them. And what a coining it is. The new generation of humble, conscious, in-it-to-sell, underdog companies, sporting D2C models, consumer champion narratives, minimalist aesthetics, affordable luxury positionings and post-choice selling techniques (this is THE mattress, that is THE toothbrush).

Sony Launches SR Display: You Can See 3D Pictures Without Wearing 3D Glasses – – really interesting technology

Indonesia’s central bank hints burglary in e-wallet playerconsumers should look at the track record of providers before using them to save large amounts of money. Indonesia’s total e-wallet transaction value size is expected to reach US$15 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by The Asian Banker

Problem Solved #13: A lesson in tackling bloody taboos from Bodyform | The Drumthe result was to present the viewer with flame-engulfed apartment of a perimenopausal women; a monster ripping at an endometriosis sufferer’s uterus; a ‘flood gate’ moment following an unexpected sneeze; a woman who has chosen not to have children; and the often-turbulent journey of trying to conceive

Diane von Furstenberg: Interview | Vanity FairThe iconic wrap dress, designed in 1974 and sold more than 15 million times since, made von Furstenberg an overnight sensation and began a dialogue with women that she has maintained ever since, in a large part through admirable philanthropic efforts, including the annual DVF awards. Now she’s taking that dialogue to the podcast, a medium she champions for its value in shifting the focus away from appearance.

British Airways Avoids Huge £180 Million Data Breach Fine for Hack That Compromised the Personal Details of Over 400,000 Customers – good for BA given airlines are haemorrhaging cash at the momen. I am worry about the message that this sends to large corporates and customer data

Shenzhen — Justin McGuirk – pretty much nails how I found Shenzhen over the decade that I visited regularly. More on Shenzhen related posts here.

Facial recognition data leaks are rampant in China as Covid-19 pushes wider use of the technology | South China Morning Post – interesting that this is being collected by non-state actors such as property management companies and schools as well as the state bodies

iPhone 12 launching without earbuds or wall chargers is compared to eating without chopsticks in China | South China Morning Post – I was expecting this as Chinese consumers are value orientated, brands focus on ‘client delight’ and there is a culture of free gifts with products. So taking items out of the box and the green explanation won’t wash

Beijing 1986: portraits of a forgotten China | Financial Times – amazing photos from 1986.

Shenzhen/Huawei: the other Bay Area | Financial TimesThe impression of military manoeuvres by alternative means was reinforced by Tencent, another Shenzhen resident. It was among big Chinese social and video platforms including iQiyi and Weibo, that simultaneously cancelled the livecast of Apple’s iPhone 12 launch – a small example of the nexus between the Chinese government, corporate decision-making influenced by the government and an undercurrent of Han nationalism

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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I was reminded of my childhood this week. When I was pre-school, I loved playing with a box and packaging material. I can remember that whatever channel my Mum had the radio tuned into, there was a lot of easy listening songs on it.

Picture this: Neil Diamond’s Song Song Blue on the radio. A three or four year old Ged scrunching up packaging from a Cadbury Milk Tray box. Playing with a box, I turned the box internals into a conductors baton, and Neil Diamond followed my lead.

It seems Amazon has had a similar idea in terms of playing with a box: Amazon launches an AR app that works with new QR codes on its boxes | TechCrunch. More related posts here.

While we’re on the subject of easy listening, the South China Morning Post magazine had a feature article about the late great Roman Tam. Godfather of Canto-pop Roman Tam ‘an imperfect man’ who sought perfection | South China Morning PostAs the voice of TVB theme tunes in the 1970s and 80s, Roman Tam’s singing could be heard in the streets of Hong Kong from 7pm each day. Tam was accepted into mainstream Chinese culture despite homosexuality being outlawed, with his on-stage flamboyance tolerated because of his off-stage discretion – ‘Below the Lion Rock’ is an official national anthem for Hong Kong.

Roman Tam – Below The Lion Rock

A translation would be:

In life, there is joy, but inevitably there is also sorrow

We met underneath the Lion Rock

(When look back) We laugh more than we sigh

In life, there are struggles/rough roads,. Inevitably we can’t go without worries

Since we are in the same boat, share the same life underneath the Lion Rock, Let’s put aside our differences and get together Put down our conflicts/differences, chase dream/a good cause together

People in the same boat will walk together, without fear, not intimidated

We both are at the corner of the world (Literally it says we dwell at the corner of the sea and edge of the heaven).

Hand in hand we can trample and level all obstacles We use our sweat and hardwork to write our own legend, that will go down history forever

Unofficial approximate translation of Below The Lion Rock

The TV series Below The Lion Rock is a great primer for outsiders looking to understand Hong Kong. It started in the 1970s and addressed the living conditions of the poorest sector as well as the working class who lived in the public housing estates and squatter huts below the Lion Rock in the 1970s. Hong Kongers worked hard to collectively rebuild Hong Kong after World War II.

It even gave name to the Lion Rock spirit of solidarity and perseverance. One could argue that this broke down as Hong Kong de-industrialised, becoming a financial and real estate investment based economy instead.

The Lion Rock itself has been the scene of protests during the past few years, including a human chain.

Human chain on the top of Lion Rock. Hong Kong. 20190823
Human chain on the top of Lion Rock. Hong Kong. 20190823 by Studio Incendo

Amazing visualisation of Gartner’s hype curve over the past 25 years. It makes an interesting time machine looking back into where we thought technology would go. The data behind the video can be found here.