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​【经济学人】Consumer electronics in China

cr:Consumer electronics in China:From followers to leaders

2015年6月8日 


Consumer electronics in China:From followers to leaders

中国消费电子:追赶者到领跑者


Why the Chinese will increasingly set the trends in gadgetry

为什么中国人越来越能引领消费电子潮流


IT IS a courageous foreigner who drives on China’s roads. A combination of tens of millions of inexperienced drivers and a general disregard for traffic rules makes them among the world’s deadliest. Braver still would be the car manufacturer that dares to put a car loaded with automated-driving features on such roads. Western notions of what is a safe distance between cars mean little in China. How could an autonomous vehicle conceived for orderly Germanic roads cope with such anarchy?

在中国公路上开车行驶的外国人都勇气可嘉。数千万驾驶员缺乏经验,国民普遍无视交通法规,这些因素综合起来都使得中国的公路是世界上最危险的。敢让装载自动驾驶功能的汽车在这样的道路上行驶,汽车厂商更是勇者。西方安全车距的概念在中国意义不大。这些为秩序良好的德国公路设计出来的自动驾驶汽车如何应对这样的混乱状态呢?

Nevertheless Audi was this week giving journalists demonstrations of hands-off motoring through the frantic Shanghai streets. Its test cars were in town for a giant consumer-electronics fair, where it announced deals with Baidu, China’s biggest search-engine and mapping firm, and Huawei, a telecoms-equipment manufacturer, to kit out its connected cars of the future.

尽管如此,本周奥迪还是在疯狂混乱的上海街头向记者们实地展示了自动驾驶技术。奥迪公司在城区举办的一场特大型电子消费展(2015首届亚洲消费电子展,译者注)上展示了其自动驾驶汽车测试车型,并在展会上宣布和中国最大的搜索引擎与地图服务商百度,电信设备制造商华为达成协议,为将来的互联汽车做配套准备。

The German firm’s faith in China’s digital boom may be well placed, if this week’s convention is a guide. This is the first year that a version of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is held every year with much fanfare in Las Vegas, has been held outside America. Hitherto, trends in consumer gadgetry have typically taken off in America first, followed by the rest of the rich world, and then in emerging markets like China. That may be changing.

奥迪对中国数字市场的繁荣发展充满信心,这很可能使公司处于一个有利的位置,前提是本周的大会是一个风向标。每年都在拉斯维加斯举办的国际消费电子展(CES)备受瞩目,今年是CES式的展会首次在美国以外的地区举办。迄今为止,电子产品的消费趋势通常始于美国,其他发达国家紧随其后,接下来才出现在中国等新兴市场。不过这种局面可能将发生变化。

Size is one reason. America’s Consumer Electronics Association, which stages the CES, forecasts that the Chinese market for electronic goods will grow by 5% to $281 billion this year, and at current growth rates will overtake America’s next year. A big market gives firms added incentive to try out new devices there early.

市场规模是一个缘由。CES主办方美国消费电子协会预测2015年中国电子产品市场将增长5%达到2810亿美元,按照目前的增速中国市场将在明年超越美国。庞大的市场规模更能提前刺激各大公司在中国测试新设备。

But there are other reasons besides size to expect the Chinese consumer increasingly to be the trend-setter, rather than the trend-follower, in electronics. First, take autonomous and “connected” cars. The average Audi buyer in America or Europe is in his 50s, but in China he is a digitally-addicted 36-year-old. So models with such advanced options are likely to become widespread in China first. Fully driverless cars, in particular, may take off quicker than in litigious America or risk-averse Europe.

除此之外,我们有其他理由相信在电子行业中国消费者将日益引领潮流而不是追随潮流。首先,以自动驾驶汽车和“互联”汽车为例。在美国或欧洲奥迪汽车的买主平均年龄为五十多岁,而中国的买主则为36岁的数码控。因此装载如此先进配件的车型更有可能率先在中国得到普及,尤其是全自动无人驾驶汽车,在中国的普及速度将比在好打官司的美国以及规避风险的欧洲更快。

Second, the Chinese have taken to mobile commerce with gusto. Apple is reported to be in talks with Alibaba, a local e-commerce firm, to bring its mobile payment system to the Middle Kingdom. Consumers who have quickly got used to shopping on mobile devices also seem likely to be enthusiastic adopters of smart watches and other wearable devices.

其次,中国人很喜欢移动购物并且乐此不疲。据报道,苹果正在和本土电商公司阿里巴巴进行谈判,希望将其移动支付系统引入中国。那些短期内迅速习惯使用移动设备购物的消费者似乎也很有可能积极地使用智能手表和可穿戴设备。

The Chinese people are turning out to have a greater affinity for gadgetry than even the Japanese; and Chinese companies are innovating furiously, producing all manner of devices, one of which may, perhaps, turn out to be the next Sony Walkman. JD, a successful online retailer akin to Amazon, this week showed off a voice-controlled gadget, dubbed the DingDong Smart Speaker, essentially a radio that plays whatever you tell it to—music, news, weather, or whatever. At a gathering of its own in Beijing this week, Lenovo, now the world’s biggest computer-maker, unveiled its plans for the first smart watch with two screens—an ordinary one, and one that uses optical reflection to create a much bigger virtual display. It also unveiled plans for a smartphone with a built-in laser projector and infrared motion detector that is capable of projecting what is, in effect, a giant touch screen.

结果表明中国人甚至比日本人更喜爱电子产品;中国公司正在大力创新开发各式各样的设备,其中某一种也许会成为下一个索尼随身听,开创一个新时代。京东,这家类似于亚马逊的成功在线零售商,本周在展会上展出了一款名为“叮咚智能音箱”的语音控制设备,本质上就是一个无线设备,它可以播放你告诉它的任何音频形式—音乐,新闻,天气或是别的什么。当前世界上最大的电脑制造商联想在本周于北京举行的内部会议(Lenovo Tech World)上披露,公司计划推出首款双屏智能手表—一块是普通屏幕,另一块借助光线反射出面积更大的虚拟投影。此外,公司还计划推出一款内置激光投影仪与红外运动检测器的智能手机,投射出的实际上是一块巨大的虚拟触摸屏。

Chinese electronics firms still have a reputation for simply copying Western designs. And there was still evidence of this at the CES gathering in Shanghai: plenty of lookalikes of Google Glasses, Apple Watches and iPads were to be seen at vendors’ booths. However, there were also a surprising number of original inventions on display, with a chance of making it in foreign markets. This opportunity is beginning to change Chinese firms’ attitudes towards intellectual-property protection. Chinese inventors backed by venture capital, who are hoping to launch their products in America, are beginning to patent them, realising that this boosts the valuation that investors put on their firms.

中国电子公司因简单抄袭西方设计而“闻名”。此次上海的CES上仍有证据能表明这一点:在厂商的展位上可以看到大量产品与谷歌眼镜,苹果手表和iPad极为相似。然而,会上中国厂商也展出了数量惊人的新颖独创的发明,这些产品有机会在海外市场取得成功。这样的机会也开始改变中国公司对知识产权保护的态度。依赖风险资本的中国发明者希望在美国推出自己的产品,当意识到专利可以提升投资者对公司的估值,他们开始给产品申请专利。

Consider The One, a brilliantly conceived electronic piano that integrates with music libraries accessed via smartphones and tablets. Many people give up trying to learn the piano because of the tedium of learning to read off manuscripts. The keys on this nifty piano light up in progression, to help pupils figure out which keys to press, and it uses tricks adapted from video games to help pupils eventually wean themselves off the lights and become able to read music. Ask Ben Ye, the firm’s founder, whether his hot-selling invention is safe from local copycats, and he says no. So why is his firm paying hefty licensing fees to foreign music publishers, to use their songs? We pay for the intellectual property we use because we want to go global, he says.

壹抬(The One)是一款构思巧妙的电子钢琴,通过智能手机和平板电脑与曲谱图书馆连接。因为学习识谱的过程枯燥乏味,很多人放弃学钢琴。The One设计精巧,琴键跟着旋律进行亮起提示灯,协助学员弄明白该按哪个键。通过电子游戏的玩法,The One最终能够帮助学员们脱离指示灯而有能力识谱。当小叶子科技公司(The One的研发公司)创始人叶滨被问及他的热销发明是否能避开本土抄袭时,他回答不能。那为什么他的公司还要向国外音乐出版商支付高额授权费获取歌曲的使用权呢?叶滨说,我们为知识产权付费因为我们想走向全球。


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