China Wants Control of the Internet

China has nearly 100 million Internet users, so it’s only natural that the country want a stake in how the Internet is managed. Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang recently said that China opposes the “monopolization” of the Internet by one state, a reference to the Untied States, which ultimately controls the digital medium.

I think the world is much better off without the Chinese government controlling the Internet, but the government does have one valid point — the Internet still does a fairly poor job of supporting the Chinese language. The domain name system currently only supports Latin characters. There are a few workarounds available, but these aren’t long-term solutions. Ultimately, Unicode will provide the necessary language support, but this too is going to take awhile to be fully implemented.

This will be an interesting story to follow in the years ahead…

Amazon Adds China to Global Gateway

Amazon recently added China to its global gateway.

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The link to takes you to Joyo.com, a company Amazon acquired over the summer. It will be interesting to see if Amazon attempts to “re-brand” Joyo as Amazon, or leave it as is.

Xbox Globalization

Here is an interesting Q&A with Peter Moore, global marketing chief of Microsoft’s Xbox. They have offered a subscription-based, online Xbox service for a couple years now and we find that Microsoft now offers the service in 24 countries and has over a million subscribers. Not too shabby.

Here the most relevant excerpt from the interview:

We are trying now to globalize our marketing message, something that has never been done in our industry before. Typically, the marketing message has been regional, if not local. Now we have this incredible vehicle called Xbox Live, which gives us the opportunity to speak with one voice to a consumer, whether in Beijing, Bangkok, or Barcelona.

.. Certainly soccer was one area we felt required no translation, no real localization and no explanation of the rules. It crosses all boundaries, all continents, and the ability for someone to play a game against somebody else 5,000 miles away — the identical game and they both totally understand what’s going on — it’s an incredible experience. Having already done it myself — it blows me away.

So, that and some other media deals that we haven’t announced yet are great examples of the things that we’re trying to do to globalize our message so that when you get off a plane anywhere in the world you feel that Xbox has the same positioning, the same statement to the consumer, and stands for the same things. Typical to our industry, it’s been very, very regionalizing. You can even see different taglines depending on which continent you’re on.

You’ve hit a little rough patch in Japan. Why is that?
Well, we’ve issued mea culpas weekly. I was just there two weeks ago giving my latest mea culpa. We made some fundamental errors — which we’re very cognizant of, and don’t hide behind — on some industrial design and some content strategy. As a result, we got off to a very rough start, and the Japanese market is somewhat unforgiving. They are very, very quality-focused consumers — perhaps the most quality-focused in the world — particularly in regard to consumer electronics.

Our launch was less than stellar in the areas I’ve just mentioned, and it’s difficult to recover. However, we’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work to make sure that when the next generation arrives, that Japan is a very, very important part of the next generation for us. I can guarantee we won’t make the same mistakes the second time around. We’re a company that’s pretty good at getting it right, if not the first time, certainly the second time.

    Googling China

    The search engine war in China has long been heated, but Yahoo! recently upped the stakes with the launch of a new search portal: www.yisou.com.

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    It sure looks a lot like Google’s search portal, underscoring the dramatic success Google has enjoyed in this market over the past few years.

    Consider these impressive stats from The Miami Herald:

    China is currently second to the United States in Internet users (at 80 million in 2003 compared to our 185 million) but will surpass the United States within five years, according to Forbes Global. On any given day, nine of the world’s 25 busiest websites are situated in China. Yahoo! and eBay are coming on strong in competition with locally entrenched portals. Even without China-based offices, Google attracts 40 percent of China’s search users.

    Clearly, the search portal that wins in China will have the lead in users globally. While Google has the lead today, I suspect that an entirely new search engine, likely based in China itself, may be that leader five years from now.

    Chinese Hoops

    According to a recent press release, last year more than 15 NBA teams incorporated Asian American marketing efforts into their overall marketing plans. And the timing isn’t due just to Yao; today, there are three Chinese players in the NBA: Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, Wang Zhizhi of the Los Angeles Clippers and Mengke Bateer of the Toronto Raptors.

    There are more than 2.4 million Chinese residents in the U.S. And the NBA needs all the fans it can get these days. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

    “The timing is perfect for the NBA to take this important step in reaching out to the Chinese population in the United States,” said Saul Gitlin, executive vice president-strategic services at Kang & Lee Advertising. “Not only are Chinese the largest Asian group in the country, but they have an unusually high level of education and boast a median household income of $51,444 – almost $10,000 ahead of the median for all households in the country. The intense passion for basketball within the Chinese community presents many opportunities for the NBA.”

    The NBA has also done a fine job of marketing itself globally. Jordan wasn’t the world’s most popular athlete by chance. The NBA had been pumping game highlights globally during most of his reign. And now, the NBA is awakening to Web globalization…

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    The NBA has enjoyed tremendous popularity in China. During the 2002-03 season, a record 14 telecasters televised NBA games and programs in China, with NBA programming reaching a total of 314 million TV households. The league also launched NBA.com/china, a comprehensive internet destination, written entirely in Chinese.