Posts Tagged ‘shanzhai’

Virginia Cha speaks about “shanzhai”

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

The second of two presentations at the NUS-ISS seminar, “Did you shanzhai today?“, on Friday was on her research on the model of imitation-based innovation that has developed in China over recent years.

Dr. Virginia Cha, Chief Research, ISS-NUS

Dr. Virginia Cha, Chief Research, ISS-NUS

Dr. Virginia Cha is the Chief of Research at the Institute of Systems Science (ISS).

ISS is a specialist training institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS) offering professional information technology upgrading, conversion and continuing education and training programmes to managers and IT practitioners and technologists.

Cha has been following the shanzhai (山寨) phenomenon in China for the past few years, and shared the findings of her recent field trip to Shenzhen (深圳) in China in August and September this year, when she visited the hive of shanzhai community in Huaqiangbei (华强北).

Essentially, shanzhai describes the model of innovation where entrepreneurs in China start by copying a successful newly launched product The big question I had prior to her talk was “what is the difference between shanzhai and outright piracy?”– say a tablet computer or smartphone – add innovative features that enhance performance or localisation, and quickly bring it to market.

Some shanzhai products eventually became so successful that the original products they’d been based on ended up picking up features added by the shanzhai makers.

Cha made it clear with examples that many who merely imitated products usually failed eventually. The successful shanzhai practitioners were those who were able to exercise innovation by enhancing the product they started off imitating. The imitation was only a start – a quick level up.Some of these shanzhai makers became so successful they mature into large companies themselves and attracted other pirates and shanzhai imitators.

All in all, it was an informative lecture, enriched by plenty of actual shanzhai hardware that Virginia had procured for the purpose of research during her field trip. From her description, Huaqiangbei might just end up becoming the equivalent of the Sillicon Valley in the US.

Benjamin Joffe speaks on Digital Naturalism

Friday, October 7th, 2011

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, 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.

Benjamin Joffe’s slides on Digital Naturalism

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.

Did you shanzhai today?

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

As part of the NUS-ISS Innovation Update Seminar series, two speakers will cover – on 7 October 2011 –  a common form of innovation in China now. “Shanzhai” refers to the production of high-quality, very rapid imitation of new, branded products by low-cost, no-brand competitors.

Free NUS-ISS seminar on "Shanzhai" on Friday 7 October 2011

Free NUS-ISS seminar on "Shanzhai" on Friday 7 October 2011

According to the e-brochure, “the shanzhai innovation phenomenon parallels Linux’s cathedral and bazzar movement, a term coined by software architect Eric Raymond to describe the open source movement where the Cathedral model is restricted to an exclusive group as contrasted to the Bazaar model where developers self-organize in view of the public.”The seminar promises to review new products churned out by the shanzhai movement, and the rapid evolution of the aggressive shanzhai-style manufacturers – all pointing to the underlying vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

If you’re looking to keep up with the latest in innovation, register for this FREE seminar by 3 October 2011.

The seminar is presented by the Institute of Systems Science (ISS), a specialist training institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS) offering professional information technology upgrading, conversion and continuing education and training programmes to managers and IT practitioners and technologists.

Date 7 October 2011 (Friday)
Time 8:45 am to 11:30 am
Venue Institute of Systems Science (ISS)
Address 25 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Singapore 119615

The two speakers at the seminar are Benjamin Joffe, CEO of +8*, and Dr. Virginia Cha, Senior Programme Director of Innovation at ISS.

The detailed agenda and biographies of the speakers can be found in this e-brochure.