There are more and more knock-offs (Shanzhai 山寨 in Chinese) coming out of China, the authenticity of these products are getting better and better. Of course I'm only referring to the esthetic appearance and not the quality or workmanship. The latter is the reason why counterfeit goods are worth while business for those involved. In most cases counterfeit sellers are trying to scam people looking to buy the real thing. In the past clothing was the most popular counterfeited products, but as more and more authentic clothing brands begin to manufacture their products in China, counterfeiters no longer have the advantage of cheaply made goods. These factories begin to produce extra pieces to sell in the gray-market or they start to sell rejected items as factory-outlet items.

The counterfeiters in the late 1980's began going into imitating brand name handbags. Selling counterfeit versions in mainland China shops at 10% of the authentic brand's retail price. For the keen eyed buyers they can tell the difference between the real and counterfeit items. Some of these counterfeit models don't even exist with the authentic brands; in most cases the pattern, colour or their combinations are the difference.

In recent years these differences between counterfeit and authentic handbags draw smaller and smaller. In many mainland China handbag shops selling counterfeit versions, will display real retail catalogues from the brands for customers to choose. This serves to demonstrate to the customers that the model/colour/pattern and combinations do indeed exist from the respective authentic brands, it also help them avoid carrying too many counterfeit items at the store premises.

So far these counterfeit consumer items from mainland China have not hurt anyone other than the original brand/copyright holders. But ever since Hong Kong's SARS outbreak, mainland Chinese counterfeiters have started to produce fake food products. These items actually hurt people who consume these fake food; in many cases causing deaths.

In 2008 the biggest scandal was the contaminated powder milk, as a result creating a gray-market for authentic powder milk from Japan sold in Hong Kong. Many stores in Hong Kong, who never sold powder milk began to sell imported Japan manufactured powder milk. With the events on March 11th, it causes all Japanese manufactured powder milk to be sold out in Hong Kong mostly due to the mass purchasing by mainland Chinese gray-marketers.

In the past several years counterfeit products in another industries have also matured. Mainland Chinese counterfeiters begin making fake Apple products and other hot selling electronic items from various manufactures. These fake products are so real from their appearances that it is often hard to tell the difference until one begins to use them.

Using the fake Apple iPad 1, fake Apple iPhone 4, fake Apple MacBook Air or fake Apple Smart Cover, you will immediately realize they are counterfeits. Of course their retail prices will often give them away. These fake Apple products are usually sold at 50% of the authentic items' retail prices; except in the case of the Apple Smart Covers.

So how can the brands fight back? Is lawsuit the answer? Can foreign government treaties stop the counterfeiting? Not likely.

The tactic most brands take is to open their own stores in mainland China, making their respective products easier to acquire by Chinese consumers. This is an effect stop gap for counterfeit products, because in most cases Chinese consumers do want to purchase authentic items. But by the time these items are imported into China and local retailers add their markups, the retail prices are just too high.

Recently Abercrombie & Fitch lost a lawsuit against a mainland China retailer, in which A&F claims the retailer of selling counterfeit A&F products. You would think since there are no authorized resellers for A&F products in Asia, A&F's claims should be easy to proof and win. That was not the case, because during the hearing the A&F expert could not tell the difference between the counterfeit and the authentic A&F products.

Did this failed lawsuit deterred A&F? No, A&F will open their first Asia retail store in Hong Kong 2012, taking over the space previously occupied by Shanghai Tang at one of Hong Kong's most historic building, Pedder Building, and paying HKD7 million per month in rent for the privilege. Gap will also do the same; although not Asia's first, and opens around the corner in the vicinity at the heart of Hong Kong's business and high end retail district. I hope A&F will take this opportunity to bring their other sister brands: Gilly Hicks Sydney and Hollister California to Hong Kong.

The 12,700 square foot Pedder Building retail space will be smaller than the 15,000 square foot space soon to be occupy by Apple for their first Apple Store at IFC Mall Q4 2011 and their second Apple Store of 20,000 square foot at Hysan Place for 2012.

Will these actions by the major brands finally stop the counterfeiting? Only time will tell.

After months of speculations from various web sites: iLounge, Fast Company, 9 to 5 Mac, Mashable and The Unofficial Apple Weblog The day for Apple to review the punch line to their statement in the invitation is finally here.

Come see what 2011 will be the year of.

At 10:00 this morning (US Pacific Time) Steve Jobs reviewed the new "iPad 2". In short it is faster, lighter and more feature rich than the previous generation. Along with the new iPad Jobs and company also announced the release of Photo Booth, FaceTime, iMovie and GarageBand for the iPad. The latter two will be available at USD4.99 via the iTunes App Store. All of these along with iOS 4.3 will be available March 11th, and the prices of all 6 models remain the same with the new version. iOS 4.3 will be available for iPad, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod Touch (3G and 4G). The most significant feature; that I look forward to, will be the Hotspot feature. This will allow the iPhone 4 or iPod Touch (3G and 4G) create a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 devices.

Specifications iPad 1 iPad 2
CPU 1GHz Single core Apple A4 1GHz Dual core Apple A5
LCD Screen Resolution 1024 x 768 pixels at 132 pixels ppi
Dimensions (HxWxD) 9.56" x 7.47" x 0.5" 242.8mm x 189.7mm x 13.2mm 9.50" x 7.31" x 0.34" 241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm
Weight 1.6 lb. (730g) 1.33 lb. (601g)
Colours None
  • Black
  • White
Radios
  • Wi-Fi + 3G model: UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
  • Wi-Fi + 3G for Verizon model: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)
Storage
  • 16GB
  • 32GB
  • 64GB
Sensors
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Three-axis gyro
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
Cameras None
  • Back camera: Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still camera with 5x digital zoom
  • Front camera: Video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio; VGA-quality still camera
  • Photo and video geotagging over Wi-Fi

With iPad 2 we also see that the availability of two new accessories for the iPad: Apple Digital AV Adapter and a Smart Cover.

The new Video Adapters joins the other video adapters Apple has for the iPad to support the iPad 2 video output:

  • Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter are able to provide video mirroring up to 1080p.
  • Apple Component AV Cable is able to provide video out at 576p and 480p.
  • Apple Composite AV Cable is able to provide video out at 576i and 480i.

Again Apple is doing a progressive roll out of the new iPad 2. Of course the US will get their first shipment on March 11th, with 26 or more countries on March 25th.

Phrase 2:
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • UK
Phrase 3:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Unfortunately, this time Hong Kong is not part of the 2nd or 3rd phrase roll out.

Along with the announcement Jobs also wanted to emphasis a message to the consumers (and competitors in this market):

It's in Apple's DNA that technology is not enough. It's tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive.

Recommendations

The new iPad 2 is very impressive on paper and it has several cool features, but for someone who already owns an iPad (now 1G) this new version is not a worth while upgrade. Especially if your iPad is less than a year old. I personally will wait and see what the rumored iPad 3 will be like later this year.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_d6_gbb90I

Apple on Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 (US time) sent out an invitation to a March 2nd event in San Francisco, CA, USA. The tagline reads

Come see what 2011 will be the year of.

With graphics on the invitation implying the event will have something to do with the iPad. Therefore it is very lightly Apple will be announcing/revealing the next generation iPad (aka. iPad 2G) on March 2, 2011.

If past history is taken into account, the iPad 2G will most likely be announced and shown off at the March 2nd event, but will not be available for sale weeks afterwards. Most likely months afterwards before it officially arrives in Hong Kong.

World Times for Apple's Event on March 2nd: 08:00 - Hawaii Time 10:00 - US Pacific Time 11:00 - US Mountain Time 12:00 - US Central Time 13:00 - USD Eastern Time 18:00 - London Time 19:00 - Paris Time 23:30 - Mumbai Time 02:00 - Hong Kong Time (March 3rd) 05:00 - Sydney Time (March 3rd)

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesiPad

In the past Apple online store had held one day sales event for "Black Friday" (aka "Boxing Day", the day after Christmas). Usually any other times Apple products are rarely discounted; unless it is through the Corporate or Education sites or refurbished items. So it is a bit surprising to receive a Sale event announcement from Apple Hong Kong this morning. Let along a one day sale event from Apple HK. The email announcement detailed their first ever Chinese New Year 2011 one day sale event to be held on Friday, January 14th in their online store. There are currently no additional details about the deals, discounts or products included in the one-day-sale event. Visiting the page on Apple HK online store right now, one will see a message asking visitors to return on Friday for details.

Over the past 3 years Apple Inc. has taken the heat on pushing the adoption of the W3C standard, HTML5, for all web based development. They have even been taken to court for not allowing competitor's technology (Flash) on their platform (iOS). Recently to avoid any more blame for flaws in these 3rd party technologies, they have stopped pre-installing them on all hardware products they ship.

Now the companies behind these other technologies are showing signs of support for Apple's directions. Are Microsoft shifts away from Silverlight and Adobe announcing the HTML5 Video Player widget indications that Apple rivals in the HTML5 war are finally given up?

This recent Microsoft decision is in line with their statement 4 years ago stating that, what they had done with Internet Explorer for the past 6 version were wrong and IE8 is the start of HTML5 compliancy.

Recently Microsoft released beta version of IE9 at PDC, which will be even more compliant with HTML5 than any previous versions of Internet Explorer.

The mess that are current web sites is really the fault of Microsoft. For creating browsers (IE) that are too tolerant of HTML coding mistakes and non-conformation to the HTML standards. Microsoft also provided web developers with technologies (ASP, etc.) and tools (.NET) that are not W3C standards. Along with the prevalent of Microsoft technologies in the 3rd world countries, these created a low cost labour force that further propagates non-standards web sites and applications. Fortunately with Apple's and other members of W3C efforts web site and applications owners are finally demanding HTML5 compliance.

Microsoft's statement about HTML5 is not to say they are abandoning Silverlight, Silverlight is still the development environment for their Windows 7 Phone platform. What they are saying is that HTML5 is Microsoft's future directions for true cross platform compatibility. This is a significant message to all web site and application owners. In the past these owners are only focused on the platform [Windows] they felt majority of the computing users are using. Now they are told that if they want to future prove their products and services they should focus on HTML5.

As for Adobe, they are not giving up on Flash either. They released the HTML5 Video Player widget because their users [developers] are demanding ways to be compatible with the iOS platform; it being the largest consumer of HTML5 content at the moment. I'm sure they are also aware of the efforts YouTube, Vimeo and others are doing to make their respective sites compliant with HTML5. One of the largest video sharing site, YouKu, serving the largest population in the world made their site compatible with on the iOS platform in July this year.

In the same month, we saw one of the largest online business migrating to HTML5; the porn industry. The adult film studio Digital Playground announces it will convert its mobile sites to HTML5. History teaches us that when the porn industry puts its supports behind a technology all competitive technologies will eventually disappear. Case in point is the VHS and Beta video cassette tape format war.

If you know me I am a strong proponent of standards compliance, I first express my opinions publicly with my article Compatibility. So I am very happy to see HTML5 is showing signs of wining the war. This will results in better build web sites and applications in the long run. Content will finally be separated from the technologies they are served in. How? I will leave this as a topic for another article.

A patent filing by Apple in February 2009 was made public last week. This patent is related to the "Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device". In the patent it details how Apple's technology is capable of identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device. This unauthorized user of the electronic device can be detected by identifying particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior. It is rumored that this technology may appear on the iPad to allow for the feature of sharing a single iPad among different family members or in a classroom situation.

For security application of the technology, when an unauthorized user is detected, various safety measures can be taken. For example, information related to the identity of the unauthorized user (ie. photo, IP address, etc.), the unauthorized user's operation of the electronic device, or the current location of the electronic device can be gathered. While functions of the electronic device can be restricted upon unauthorized used has been confirmed.

The owner of the electronic device can be notified of the unauthorized user by sending an alert notification through any suitable medium, such as, for example, a voice mail, e-mail, or text message.

On the positive side this technology may be Apple's attempts to satisfy corporate users regarding security concerns and their ability to entrust sensitive corporate information on these iOS devices.

On the other hand, Apple can use this technology to potentially identify Jailbreakers as "unauthorized users", the system will then notify Apple via one of the notification means described. We have to remember that when the US Copyrights Office rules that it is no longer illegal under the DMCA to jailbreak the iPhone, Apple's response to the ruling is that "jailbreaking is a violation of the iPhone end-user license agreement",

I continue to caution anyone who are considering jailbreaking their iOS devices. Please read blog post relating to local [Hong Kong] issues with jailbreaking.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesApple Inc-

Many people are tempted by the low cost of Apple products in Hong Kong compared to all other countries around the world, including USA. They are most attracted to the factory SIM-unlocked iPhones sold through official Apple resellers and Apple HK store online. So they are tempted to purchase one or more of these products while they are travelling to Hong Kong. Making a purchasing decision like this should not be taken lightly. Aside from the cost, for any electronic product there should also be consideration of warrantee.

Fortunately, Apple had changed its warrantee last year for all its "portable" devices (ie. MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.) such that they have a worldwide warrantee coverage. But you need to read the (not so) small print in Apple's warrantee documents. Apple has the rights to request any warrantee services to be performed in the purchased country. Of course, this is less likely if the country where the warrantee requester is in also officially sells the item in question.

In some cases, people who lives in Hong Kong may want to consider purchasing Apple products from other countries. One such example, is the current situation with the iPad, where they were sold out within one day and Apple Premier Resellers have stopped receiving pre-orders because they can no longer promise a date on which to fulfill the backorders. Fortunately, for people who lives in HK, by this Friday (July 30th) Apple HK will be officially selling every Apple released products. Therefore, the chances of Apple HK requesting purchasers to send the warranted item back to purchasing country for warrantee repairs is low. So if you have the means to purchase iPad or iPhone 4 from UK or France, and willing to pay the higher cost due to exchange rates, you can.

Please understand I am not suggesting you purchase from the gray-market sellers in Mong Kok or Wanchai. These resellers are charging approximately HKD1000.00 above List price for iPads and close to 200% more for the iPhone 4 (from UK or France), lower for the ones from USA.

HTML5 has long been promoted by Apple, Google, Mozilla, Opera, Microsoft, etc. as the future for the web. Apple even went as far as not supporting Flash on its mobile platforms (iOS) to further promotes the use of HTML5 in web site development. Apple's decision caused a major war of words between Adobe and Apple, plus all sort of underhanded tactics from both companies in an attempt to cripple the other's technology/platform. Adobe recently released a new version of its mobile Flash, but it done so for almost all mobile platforms except for iOS. This is often seen as a retaliation of Apple's modifications to its iOS Developers' Terms of Use, to exclude tools like the one found in the latest Adobe's Flash development environment.

While Google openly supports and promotes the use of HTML5, it also supports Flash on its latest Android platform. Now that users have experienced Flash on the latest Android OS (v2.2), they have found Flash app/movies to run slowly and cause their Android enabled mobile devices to drain their batteries quickly.

On the other hand both Google and Apple have published respective technology demonstration pages to show off the capabilities of HTML5. Google even made a HTML5 version of their popular online video site, YouTube.

Last week the adult film studio Digital Playground announced that it will convert all its mobile sites to use HTML5 and its native supports for video embedding instead of using Flash videos. This is so that their sites will be compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.

In the past technology formats have won over their respective competing formats when the porn industry throw its supports behind it. Case in point is the VHS video tape format over the BETA video tape format; even though experts believes BETA is a superior format, simply because the porn industry decided to release videos only in VHS format.

I believe this support by a major porn video production company will exaggerate the adoption of the W3C HTML5 standard as in VHS over BETA.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesNews

Recently you may have just purchased one of Apple's latest gadgets, the iPad WiFi+3G, from the 9 countries officially selling them, or plans to get one of the iPhone 4 from either Canada, France and UK. This is because all iPad WiFi+3G (except the ones sold in Japan) and iPhone 4 sold in Canada, France, UK and Hong Kong are SIM-unlocked. Meaning they will not be locked to a particular GSM carrier, therefore users can choose to put GSM SIM cards from any carriers into these devices and they will work. That's true with a small exception, these GSM SIM must be the micro-SIM format rather than the more commonly used "mini-SIM" among GSM carriers around the world.

At the moment micro-SIM cards are only available from 3 HK, but these cards are for data access only and does not include voice capabilities. For Smartone-Vodafone (SMV) and PCCW they both offer micro-SIM cards but only for customers who have subscribed to their data tariff plans and without voice capabilities.

So if you're looking for a micro-SIM to put inside your iPhone 4 from one of the Hong Kong carriers, you will have to wait until the official launch of the iPhone 4 in Hong Kong. Fortunately Hong Kong is one of the 9 countries in the second phrase iPhone launch initially planned for July 2010, but recent sales and high demands in the 4 initial launch countries may cause the second phrase to be delayed.

I had contacted SMV and PCCW and they both tells me that they have no availability date for micro-SIM card, only that both will have micro-SIM cards when the iPhone 4 is officially available for sale in Hong Kong.

If you cannot wait, the alternative is to convert your existing mini-SIM to a micro-SIM card. It turns out the contacts for these two types of SIM are the same. The only different being the dimensions of these cards 15mm x 25mm (mini-SIM) compared to 12mm x 15mm (micro-SIM).

The following step by step instructions are from iHackintosh.com and they are provided here for your convenient. There are no guarantee by iHackintosh.com or myself (Vinko.Com). Also note that most carriers charges a fee for replacement SIM cards.

What you you will need are: mini-SIM, marker pen, ruler, sharp cutter and filing tool (Nail File).

  1. Get a GSM mini-SIM card. Your existing GSM SIM card will do.
  2. Mark the mini-SIM with the dimensions of the micro-SIM card (12mm x 15mm).
  3. Make initial cuts along marked lines with a cuter, bend along the cuts and then finish with a scissors.
  4. Use the file to file down the conners and edges.

If you ever want to use this newly created micro-SIM card in a device that only accept mini-SIM cards like the original iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS. You can purchase a micro-SIM Adapter from Vinko's Treasures for USD5.15 including worldwide shipping.

Of the seven mobile carriers in Hong Kong: CSL's One2Free, CSL's 1010, Hutchison's 3 HK, PCCW Mobile, Smartone-Vodafone (SMV), China Mobile and China Unicom, SMV may be the one that tries to deliver the best quality of service the hardest. This is why I am writing this open letter to SMV, hoping that the CEO and others in charge see it and finally make a change.

Dear CEO,

I understand Smartone-Vodafone is a business that needs to make money, and your business is to deliver mobile communication and data connectivity to the people in Hong Kong.

The way I see it is that majority of your revenue comes from monthly subscribers and pay-as-you-go customers. With the sales of handsets and other 3G radio equiped devices rounding out the remainder of your revenue.

You currently have several voice only, data only, and voice/data combine tariff plans. All of these come in both contract and Flexi versions of the tariff. What I want to focus on are the data plans.

I'm sure you are happy to see that your existing and potential customers are surrounded with more and more devices equipped with 3G or better radios. I am also certain you will love to have all these devices connected to the SMV network and use paid data on it.

Given this situation many of your existing and potential customers are faced with the delima of whether to commit to multiple 3G contracts for their devices. Or choose which of these devices to allow to connect to the SMV 3G network. With the latter resulting in lesser revenue to SMV.

We both know that these 3G radio equped devices will be much more functional if they are connected, resulting in higher revenue per customer just because the devices are connected.

You may already see where I am going with this. For example if a customer have a MacBook, an iPhone and an iPad they will have to commit to a voice/data contract for his iPhone, a data contract for his iPad and one more for his MacBook.

The type of devices is not that important here, what is important is that this example customer above has to sign 3 separate contracts with SMV.

Not only is this costly undertaking, there must be extra administrative cost to SMV to maintain and serve this customer.

The Solution

What I propose instead may sound like something radical in the telecom industry, but in the long run it may increase the revenue of SMV per customer. While at the same time makes SMV looks chic enough to realize, carrier should treat mobile voice/data service as an utility, which everyone needs and not try to dictate how its customer use the service.

SMV should offer new voice and/or data plans that enable N number of devices to connect to its 3G network simultaneously. If the customer needs more simultaneous devices he can pay more.

I may be describing the needs of the advance users here but these are the users who will generate the most revenue and in turn help advance SMV's infrastructure.

Now that this Open Letter is published, I'm sure your 6 other competitors in Hong Kong will see it. With the pending arrival of the iPad and alike devices time is running short. So it is now up to you to stand out among your competitors and show us why we should be loyal to SMV instead of churning.

Look forward to your actions and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Vinko

I hope as many of you, who agrees or disagree with me, will contribute your opinion of my proposal to SMV in the form of comments below.

Let see if SMV reacts appropriately.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone