I attended the seminar “Did you shanzhai today?” at NUS-ISS this morning. The first of two presentations was a thought provoking preview and introduction on recent digital developments in China.
Benjamin Joffe, CEO and founder of +8*
Benjamin Joffe is the CEO of +8* (www.plus8star.com), an Asia-focused digital strategy consultancy firm. He is an entrepreneur who has spent more than 10 years studying ecosystems in China, Japan and Korea.
Joffe explained how “digital creatures” evolved in various ecosystems. The presentation was also given at the Media Evolution Conference in Sweden in August 2011 and BarCamp in Singapore in September 2011.
Joffe did a quick comparison of the ecosystems in the US and in China and went on to examine how innovation ideas find their way from one to the other and how they evolve and adapt to survive and thrive in the new environment.
Examples of transplanted ideas include the China versions of popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yahoo, and Groupon. These included Tencent, QQ, Sohu, Youku, Tudou, and Zhenai.
The shanzhai model was one such model, which enabled local companies to aggressively replicate successful hardware (such as smartphones and tablet computers) from the West and rapidly bring an improved product to market.