Opinion

George Chen

My Shanghai holiday

George Chen
Mar 10, 2011 02:35 UTC

food

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

While Chinese lawmakers gathered in Beijing for the annual parliamentary meeting, I returned to my hometown Shanghai for a holiday.

The  lawmakers are keen to discuss China’s macroeconomic matters these days, but I am more interested in being a microeconomic observer. For example, how much does an apple cost in Shanghai these days?

During my holiday, I brought my girlfriend, a Hong Kongner, to Shanghai No.1 Food Store on the historic Nanjing Road. The store is a favorite place from my childhood as I felt I could buy food items from all over the world under one roof.

But, today a shock lay in store.

Apples imported from Japan sell for 198 yuan (about US$30) each. My girlfriend was also shocked: “I think it’s even more expensive than those in SOGO in Causeway Bay (Hong Kong).” I believe her.

I shared the expensive apple story at a family dinner. To my shock again, my Shanghai relatives didn’t seem particularly surprised to hear this. “It’s normal. You have supply and you have demand, so I say it’s normal,” my uncle said.

LePad, China’s answer to the iPad

George Chen
Dec 14, 2010 04:55 UTC

Lenovo

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

If Apple calls its tablet computer the iPad, what will China’s Lenovo name its new rival product? The answer: LePad. No kidding.

Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming said during an interview at Reuters offices in Beijing on December 13, when attending this week’s China Investment Summit, that the world’s No.4 PC maker would launch its LePad tablet computer in China within the next few weeks and was also planning a smartphone to run on China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA 3G network as it moves beyond its traditional PC base.

I’m not trying to give a free advertisement for Lenovo’s LePad in my column today. The reason I raise the matter is mainly to draw your attention to how fast Chinese companies can react to new international consumer trends and the quick success of new products such as Apple’s iPad. In less than half a year, ZTE Corp launched a tablet PC in October that sold for a far lower price than the iPad, even though it looks very much the same.

What the iPad means for China

George Chen
Dec 8, 2010 06:39 UTC
What does the iPad mean for Chinese consumers? Let me offer you a choice before you read this column – do you want the good news first, or the bad news? In fact, it’s the same story. For those who recently bought a first-generation iPad, here is the bad news – Foxconn Electronics, manufacturer of Apple Inc products, plans to begin shipping a new version of the iPad tablet, known as iPad 2, by as early as the end of February, according to a Dec. 7 news report by DigiTimes. The report, citing unnamed sources from the Taiwan-based components maker, said the iPad 2 would mainly be supplied by plants in Shenzhen belonging to Foxconn, parent of Hon Hai Precision Industry. An initial shipment of 400,000 to 600,000 units is expected. And the good news? Of course Hon Hai investors and those who want an iPad but have yet to buy one should be happy. For Apple fans in China, the next big question is of course when the new iPad 2 will arrive in the world’s No.2 economy. Consumers there have already complained about long back orders for the iPad and iPhone 4 since the two products were launched earlier this year. As such, specialist “Apple smugglers” from Hong Kong to mainland China should be happy to see new arbitrage opportunities! Chinese gadget makers may soon catch up with this opportunity to add whatever new functions the iPad 2 may have to their own “iPad killers”. Hong Kong- and Shenzhen-listed ZTE Corp launched a  tablet PC in October that sells for a far lower price than its Apple counterpart, and we should expect more Chinese competition for Apple in 2011. Or should I say innovation? Despite fast-rising inflation, Chinese consumers have yet to stop buying new gadgets, as higher salaries means more disposable income. Products such as the iPad also fit the show-off culture of the so-called “new money” class in China — those who are much richer than the middle-class and who become rich within just a few years for various reasons, such as successful property speculation — so Apple should not be worried that Chinese consumers will tighten their budgets for non-necessities and high-tech devices next year. During a recent visit to my hometown Shanghai, I was told by a senior Shanghai government official that the iPad was a very popular Christmas and New Year gift within government and business circles. Hardly a surprise. To those who have already bought an iPad, don’t be too disheartened – pass it on to your son or even grandson. Like a Qianlong dynasty vase is now worth tens of millions of dollars, first-generation iPads may someday be a national treasure too!

ipad

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

Let me offer you a choice before you read this column – do you want the good news first, or the bad news?

In fact, it’s the same story. For those who recently bought a first-generation iPad, here is the bad news – Foxconn Electronics, manufacturer of Apple Inc products, plans to begin shipping a new version of the iPad tablet, known as iPad 2, by as early as the end of February, according to a Dec. 7 news report by DigiTimes.

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