Sunday, December 31, 2006

Blog Address Changed

Hi all,

New Year... New face...
You can now access this blog at

I transfered all past posts.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Honeymoon Domestic Consultant

From (A great website to learn Mandarin) is an interesting look at a phenomenon that is spreading in China... I would say especially in Shanghai. Young Chinese couples are getting married, but have no clue whatsoever as to how to take care of themselves, so their parents "offer" them a kind of domestic helper/consultant (蜜月阿姨) to make sure they won't ... well starve to death for example, or put their pet in the washing machine, who knows...

You can listen to the 3 minutes dialog below to know a bit more:

街语19 The Word on the Street is 蜜月阿姨 (mìyuè āyí)


Merry Christmas! And happy festive season!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"Better Living - Product Design Contributes" Expo

The Hong Kong heritage museum has organized a 6 months or so product design exhibition as part of the government initiative to promote Hong Kong as a design platform for Asia. All the exhibitors are Hong Kong designers or companies (See Pictures on Flickr).

It is interesting to see that most well-known Hong Kong designers have set up their own consultancy or design their own products on a small scale and in relatively low risk categories. Indeed the exhibition has a lot of "gift & Premium" types of products.

Still, the TTI Group area is very interesting, with a wide range of products displayed and much efforts spent on highlighting the design process behind each of these. To me, that should be the spirit of the whole exhibition and is the best way to promote design and push people to get more involved.

I was very disappointed at the Philips Design booth. Nothing much to see there. It seems they tried to build an "experience" booth with too much atmosphere and very little content.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Interactive Floors

There are more and more interactive floors appearing all over town in Hong Kong. These things even though they do not work perfectly are a great way to entertain people and make them interact with their surroundings. And kids especially love it...

Few Links - 22 Dec. 2006

The usual three links on three topics that have nothing to do with one another:

  1. From BusinessWeek is an article about "China's Innovation Barriers". My thought on this: Looking at China's rapid evolution in the past decades, why would being innovative be much of a problem? China has overcome much larger problems already.
  2. From BusinessWeek again is an article about "Matsushita's Green Strategy". A lot of interesting figures about Japanese companies in this article. The biggest take-away is that being greener is really a huge commitment and investment that does not bring return right away, so companies had better start quick.
  3. Posted on Experientia Blog "Putting People First" is an article about Usability called "Introducing Usability 2.0". I really hate that 2.0 craze, but having done Usability Testing and writing reports sometimes even after a Web site had been launched, I totally identify with the writer. Great read.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Home Coffee Experience

Starbucks reinvented the coffee shop and is covering the whole world with its successful ventures. Another company is now aggressively targeting other untapped locations were coffee is consumed. This company is Nespresso and already showed impressive growth providing coffee to small and medium size corporations as well as to individuals.

While strolling around in Paris, I encountered one of their shop targeted to individuals. Everything is done to make the experience feel like a luxury one. The design of the machines is very well finished and their usage is a breeze. The staff wears suits and stands being neatly decorated desks. Change the product and this could be a Louis Vuitton shop.

If we move to Hong Kong, Nespresso does not have its own shop and is selling its machines mainly through high-end supermarkets (on top of aggressively developing its business segment). With most people in Hong Kong heading outside of their apartments for meals, especially breakfast, the approach of focusing on business, while developing some kind of exposure through supermarket chains should show great results. It is great to see a company doing its homework.

Starbucks could have brought great coffee experience outside of its stores, but it seems that another coffee company identified this great opportunity first and developed a very compelling experience to grow this under-developed market.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Forcing Change Through Bad Experience

Yesterday night the BBC was announcing the start of a new 8km tram line in Paris. With green grass surrounding the trains, this seems like a great move towards making the city more environment friendly, but it is actually the latest in a move by the city to curb downtown traffic by making it a hell to drive around. All roads now include bus lanes or other tricks that reduced by half the number of lanes available for common drivers. The city seems to hope that by making driving the most frustrating experience ever, people will use alternative means of transportation.

What a terrible way to treat its own population!

Public transportation in Paris is very far from perfect when compared with cities like Hong Kong. The metro is dirty and plagued by strikes and delays. Buses are unsafe. Is the city really providing an equally convenient alternative to the car? Not really… It also fails to realize the importance of the car for French people in general. Driving a car in France is a statement of freedom and independence. A forced removal of this can only angry people more. It will not make them abandon their car.

So apart from increased traffic jams, Paris now also has way more motorcycles speeding between cars and leading to more crashes, as more and more less-experienced two-wheel drivers get on the road. Looking at solutions like London implementation of a toll fee could lead to better results. Unfortunately, a fee, as I was discussing with a French friend, is not an egalitarian solution as it will affect poorer people more… Isn’t France quest to be the most egalitarian country in the world affecting its own relevance to the world in the end?

Few Links - 17 Dec. 2006

Below are three links about very different topics...

  1. From All This ChittahChattah by Steve Portigal is a post called "Signal To Noise". It deals with the appropriateness of online advertising by highlighting a funny example. Highly relevant to any companies investing in online advertising: Don't forget Context!
  2. From Adverblog is a link to an edugame aimed at making people realize how important it is to save energy in the office. As mentioned in Adverblog, the game is far from perfect, but it still provides some information in an entertaining way. Worth checking...
  3. From EasthSouthWestNorth is a post about the Hong Kong Ferry Terminal Clock that is to be demolished. It raises the issue of conserving the Hong Kong cultural heritage and how it is best done. I find it very interesting as it deals with the very definition of cultural heritage and how it can be shared in a meaningful way with outside people. I recently brought visitors to the newly built Ngong Ping Village and to see the Symphony of Lights... Both disgraces to Hong Kong culture if you ask me. Especially the Ngong Ping village which is supposed to be dedicated to Buddhism and includes French food, Starbucks and dumb shows that are absolutely not educational.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Mr. Egg... Please Show Me Your ID!"

It is not one day in Hong Kong without getting a warning on TV about poisonous food. Sometimes it is fish, sometimes vegetable or some other fake products, and they all come from China. As a result a brand new market opportunity has been created for "certified good" food. China even created the "Edible Farm Product" label that they grant to brands with strict quality control of their production.

While I was at the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo, I chatted for a while with Mr. Tony Sin the project director of De Qing Yuan (Website only in Chinese) a Beijing company that is entering the Hong Kong market. Armed with the Chinese Green Food label and a strict process control, they aim at introducing their product - eggs - in Hong Kong by positioning them as the safe option to other brands. Their pricing would be in between normal eggs and "organic" eggs.

Another difference with these eggs will be that the date of production instead of some expiry date will be stamped on the egg itself. Those expiry dates really mean nothing to me as they are so remote in the future (at least in Hong Kong supermarkets), but having the production date on the egg could be scary depending on the speed at which the supermarket can empty its shelves. Although I got used to seeing these expiry date, I don't know what would be my reaction to seeing eggs with a production date long in the past...

In short, there is huge market opportunity here, but isn't it a bit scary that maybe not long from now, while shopping, we will have to choose from the following two sections:

1. Reasonable price, BUT EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK
2. MORE EXPENSIVE, but safe to eat