This past Saturday (September 25, 08:00 China Standard Time) we saw the official release of the iPhone 4 in mainland China. It was welcomed by thousands of Chinese Apple fans, who camped out at the 3 Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai respectively. The actual launch had the fanfare of launches in New York City, London and Tokyo. This is even with gray-market iPhone 4's from Hong Kong and other countries sold in mainland China since it the initial launch in the US.

China Unicom said over 200,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 were received since September 17 but only 60,000 of these customers received their phones on the weekend. China Unicom had since stopped taking pre-orders due to the demand. The high demand at China Unicom outlets occurred even though the iPhone 4 sold through, Apple's only official mainland China carrier, comes with a 2-year contract.

Contrary to the iPhone 4 sold through Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai which are contract free. Apple have not released any sales figures for the weekend, but we can see from the lines of people waiting outside Apple Stores, many do not want to be locked into contracts. The Apple list prices of RMB4999.00 and RMB5999.00 for the 16GB and 32GB respectively contract-free iPhone 4 are quite high given the average monthly income in China, then again China is a country with the most millionaires, so only time will tell.

So far reports indicate that not only China Unicom outlets are sold out of iPhone 4, the four Apple Stores are also sold out.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone

While in Shanghai for the World Expo 2010 the following are sites that I cannot access.

  • My Posterous Site - although I can send posts to my Posterous site via email, I cannot see how these posts appear on the site as I cannot load it.
  • Facebook - I have several comments I like to reply to on my Facebook Wall, but I cannot log into Facebook to do so.
  • Twitter - as I had mentioned in my post Internet Deprived in Shanghai, I cannot access any Twitter services or related sites.
  • FriendFeed - I cannot post anything to FriendFeed because the entire site is block. This may be because it is now own by Facebook.
  • YouTube - I cannot see any videos on YouTube referenced by articles/posts I read. Therefore missing much of the content of a post. This lack of access also eliminate my sharing of interesting videos found on YouTube.

Without the above makes it hard for me to share. Fortunately, I still have Google Buzz and Google Reader.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesObservation

iPhone3GSThere was an article on Engadget about the mainland China version of the iPhone. I thought it was necessary to create my own post to clarify the situation as I see them, after reading the postings and comments on various sites like Modmyi.com about this Engadget article. First of all, there have been real [manufactured by Apple] iPhones available in mainland China for some time; since 2007. These grey market iPhones came from both Hong Kong and else where around the world. In the past, Hong Kong versions; prior to iPhone 3GS, were more expensive than its counter parts from other countries. With the introduction of the iPhone 3GS, the Australian and New Zealand versions had also became desirable, due to their equally SIM unlock feature.

It is true that the Chinese government requires WAPI authentication in all wireless devices: client, access points, and routers, but this requirement caused an up roar among Chinese and foreign businesses, who would have to equip their employees requiring to travel to China with dual WiFi standard devices. In 2006 the WAPI proposed standard was rejected by ISO as an International standard in favor orf 802.11i.

China disclosed the WAPI technology to only 7 Chinese companies, and required any foreign companies to work with one of these 7 Chinese companies if they want to build WiFi devices for use in China. Of course, these foreign companies will also have to pay WAPI licensing fees. It is only recently; this year, that China was allow to resubmit the WAPI standard to ISO. So China's insistent on the WAPI standard rekindled.

Mainland China also has a different 3G mobile technology, TD-SCDMA. It is mainland China's attempt to create yet another 3G standard in the world. With the largest number of mobile phone consumers in the world, China believes this is possible. China Mobile was tasked but was not able to create a working 3G network until early 2008 and tested it during the 2008 Olympics. In early 2009 the China government granted a TD-SCDMA license to China Mobile, but at the same time also granted WCDMA license to China Unicom and a CDMA-2000 license to China Telecom. The latter two licenses is probably because the world's 3G mobile phone manufactures did not want to support yet another 3G technology, making choices of 3G mobile phone handsets limited. Yet mainland China consumers do have a great desire to follow the brand names; like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, HTC and Apple.

Like most GSM mobile phone manufactures, Apple's iPhone is a WCDMA 3G mobile phone. If the rumors of an iPhone being available on the USA Verizon Wireless network is true, that will mean a CDMA-2000 iPhone may be in the works. Apple's initial discussion with Chinese mobile carrier was with China Mobile, but as talks fell apart and the discussions shifted to China Unicom, so did a TD-SCDMA iPhone. So for Apple to create a version of the WCDMA iPhone for China without WiFi, is most likely Apple's desire to make available as soon as possible, an iPhone officially in China without changing the design or their manufacturing processes.

Mainland China does have a market for the iPhone, even if the prices of grey market iPhones are high; more than most workers' annual salary. The iPhone does not need an officially santioned iPhones to be popular. What the partnership with China Unicom will do, may be to make the iPhone more obtainable by the general public. As the price of the official iPhone from China Unicom will probably be much lower than the grey market iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS from Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, especially if it will not have the WiFi radio built in.

... Well not quite. AppleInsider reported that:

...China Unicom has tentatively reached an agreement and could start selling iPhones as early as May...

Since China Unicom's 3G network is a WCDMA standard unlike China Mobile's TD-SCDMA standard, the current iPhone 3G sold worldwide will not require modifications to be sold in China.

If this report is true, then I would recommend anyone in Hong Kong considering selling their iPhone (1st generation), to do so as soon as possible. As the used market for iPhone are mainly in China, most if not all iPhone collected in Hong Kong are brought into mainland China and sold at a high margin.

I am now stuck in Beijing Airport. Air China has decided to cancel my flight to Shanghai, without giving any reasons. There were just over 100 passengers for the original flight of a Boeing 777 aircraft, they probably thought it wasn't worth it to operate such a large aircraft with so few passengers.

Canceling a flight because there are not enough passengers is something typical of US and "mainland" Chinese airlines, but not for Cathay and Dragonair or most large international airlines in Asia.

Another reasons may be because this is a domestic flight and they just don't have a small aircraft available.

Will this happen to these large International airlines if they too operates short domestic flights like this one?

I guess we will never know.

[Update: Sep. 17, 2008 20:30] It turns out the new gate is way on the opposite end of this huge airport terminal. We ended up having to take a bus to the plane. It was way out, parked in an area where they store planes that are used for flights on following day. The aircraft finally used was a Boeing 747-400 Combi.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

It is surprising how difficult to find the latest official updates of medal counts from the Beijing 2008 Olympic. After a Google search and ignoring all the scammers who try to make AdSense income, I finally found a list at Yahoo Sports, but the one that is most up-to-date is the 2008 Olympic Medal Count on Wikipedia. This further proves that people-power on the Internet is much faster and better, and Crowdsourcing is a practical and achievable future for project development.

As of 15:30 (HKT GMT+08:00), China is currently leading the medal count.

2008 Olympic Medal Count

Just heard from the evening news that China is spying on guest at various mainland China hotels. The British government is advising all British athletes to avoid using their regular mobile phones while in China. They suggest all British citizens to use disposal cell phones while in China and not to refill these cell phones after the stored value is exhausted. They also told British athletes to expect all their conversations will be monitored by third party while in mainland China.

The prime minister of China came out to address the press today, saying that all visitors are welcome to visit the sites of China, but all members of the media must abide by China laws and regulations. He also added that no one should politicalize the Olympic games.

There are still various western Internet web sites blocked by the Chinese government, such that press members working from the Olympic venue Media Center will be restricted from freely accessing information on the Internet.

The Chinese government claims that the blocking of certain Internet web sites are for the security and well being of Chinese citizens and has no way related to the Olympic events, or intentionally restrict members of the press from accessing information. The Chinese government even say that they will up hold the privacy and individual rights of all citizens and visitors.

I believe the problem is "black & white". What we in the "free" world considered common sense does not apply to China and no matter what the Chinese government say or promise, the freedom of the press or visitors to Beijing next week will not be what we will expect. Just look at my other article about the rules and regulations that the Beijing Olympic Committee released for the attendees of the Olympic Games.

So, may be it is not China that needs to learn to do things differently, it may be us, the "western world" learn that we cannot trust what China promise.

Last evening (May 7) my hosting provider (HP) informed me that my site has been assigned a new IP address (May 7, 2008, 20:00). I then found out the IP address assigned is a dedicated IP for my site. This is so that my HP can isolate my site from the rest of the sites hosted by the server. This all came about after I reported an issue with my ability to access services on my site/domain. As a result they pointed to my article on the Tibet issue and all other articles about China as the reason for their precautions.

They are worry that the China government's firewall will block my site, hence, IP address. Causing all the sites and services on the said server to be block from access within the mainland China border. In directly, they also pointed out that I should have known better.

Not exactly sure if this is related, but my site and services since Thursday, May 8, 00:30 had been much faster than ever.

So if my sites is indeed blocked by the China government's firewall, it will be unfortunate, and my friends in mainland China will have to go without the insights and articles I post to Vinko.Com, see all the photos I've taken in my photo albums, read the movie reviews before they go to the theatre, or shop at my online store, Vinko Treasures. But my site and services will be much faster.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

China's going to launch their own mobile TV technology in time for the Olympic games' opening ceremony on August 8, 2008. Mobile TV standards have been largely incompatible, with systems in the North America, South America, South Korea, Italy and Japan. Now we see yet another incompatible system to be introduced in one of the largest potential user based. Shall we keep starting these standards wars? We saw the battle of BetaMAX and VHS. We recently saw the HD disk format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

China had always wanted to come up with their own standards. They attempted to do so with WiFi, but failed drastically when the Chinese businesses complain that the China WiFi system would not be compatible with 802.11, hence forcing all Chinese businesses to equip their staff; who travels outside of China, with connected devices compatible with dual WiFi system.

Then China choose a HD TV standard that is incompatible with the rest of the world's HD TV standard, but this time there are no Chinese businesses available to fight the decision for the consumer. So due to business survival, TV manufactures are making converter boxes that will sit between their HD TV sets and the signal coming at Chinese cities. For what have to be a patriotic decision, Hong Kong choose to go with the China standard rather than the standard that is use in majority of the countries outside of China.

Standards wars are never good for the ultimate consumers. I call for the technology decision makers and government officials, to consider the ultimate consumers in their decisions.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

This Olympic torch relay around the world has now become such a controversy that the International Olympic Asscociation is considering terminating the relay. If this decision is final, it will become the first world record obtained by China in this year's Olympic. The people at "Torch Relay Beijing 2008" has created an animation to show their disguss of the recent events.

Please enable Javascript in your browser if you want to see the animated image here.

So far most sites who had talked about this or mentioned Tibet has been banned from China. I suppose mentioning these facts will also cause my site to be banned from China. After over 16 years of Internet presence for my site, I have finally dragged myself into a political topic that will cause me to loose the readership of fellow Chinese in China.

Hopefully, the well informed any Internet savy readers will find the usual techniques to circumvent the Chinese government's censorship.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

China's Virtual PoliceBeijing, China today introduced the new "Virtual Policeman and Policewoman" cartoon figures who will constantly monitor the web sites Chinese citizen visits. At the moment the Virtual Police is only monitoring 13 Chinese web sites and will eventually covers every domains registered in Beijing, China. These Virtual Police would periodically appear on Internet surfer's browser window reminding surfers not to visit porn sites, illegally download music and applications. If the surfers need further assistance, they just have to click on the Virtual Police figure and the surfers will immediately be redirected to the Beijing Police web site.

This is a perfect example of the cultural difference between mainland China and other western countries; particularly United States.

If this sort of government monitoring happens in Canada, United Kingdom or United States there will be a major up roar and citizen revoke. Of course, this is not to say that these government (particularly UK and USA) are not currently monitoring what their respective citizens are doing. In most cases, they are doing it much more subtly. It is well know that United States' NSA (National Security Agency) monitors Internet traffic. In most cases, they justify the monitoring as domestic security reasons.

I think people, particularly governments, need to stop forcing their own principals onto other countries. Instead they should learn how to work with the local culture and improve the respective lives of their citizens.

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Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion