xingfu
  1. xingfu
    正是靠着这种朴素的页面呈现方式,Facebook超越了“酷还是不酷”的问题。现在,对多数人而言,Facebook谈不上酷不酷,那就是它的存在方式。
  2. xingfu

    MySpace注定要灭亡

    MySpace用户能够自行修改用户主页的设计,同时伴有自动播放的音乐,导致整个网站最终变成了一个电子乐横行的万花筒。这种奇异的审美趣味几乎是故意排斥年纪较长的人、智商比较高的人、以及更接近社会主流的人,导致网站与主流人群渐行渐远,并最终没落。 看起来,MySpace在经历了漫长而痛苦的衰亡过程后,终于要寿终正寝,永远安息了。本周新闻媒体对该公司的报道读起来不免有些讣告的意味:目前,这家新闻集团(The News Corp.)旗下的社交网络正在计划大量裁员。很显然,这是在为减负作准备,以降低公司成本。 《彭博商业周刊》(Bloomberg BusinessWeek)的一篇悼文详细回顾了MySpace的成长和衰落。此后MySpace就出现了上述动向。 《彭博商业周刊》本周的封面报道题为《MySpace的崛起和可耻的衰落》(The Rise and Inglorious Fall of MySpace)。该文称“管理上的失误、先天不足的合并、以及难以数计的严重失误加速了MySpace的衰落。” 传媒巨头新闻集团于2005年以5.8亿美元将MySpace收至麾下,其拙劣的管理加速了该社交网络的毁灭,这点毋庸置疑。但是,MySpace到底是否从创建伊始便已注定要灭亡,这点倒是颇有争议。 现在人们已经不大记得,MySpace在人们眼中曾一度是新锐的代名词。2003年创建之初,该网站主要致力于独立音乐,大量乐队纷纷加入,自己动手建立乐队主页,并借此发行其创作的音乐。但是,该网站从未切实尝试利用这些核心用户。任何酷毙了事物几乎无一例外地注定有一天将不再流行。就在MySpace被新闻集团收购之后不久,尽管该网站彼时仍然在不断成长壮大,但有关它会没落的预测已开始四处流传。之后不久,Facebook便声誉鹊起。 Facebook问世之初给人的印象是既具书卷气又够酷,现在,它早已超越了酷不酷的层次。更为重要的是,相比MySpace,该网站的易用性要强出许多,也更为贴近社会主流。与此同时,MySpace依然坚持俗艳的设计,只要点击打开主页,音乐便会自动播放。对于普通用户而言,摇滚小子(Kid Rock)震耳欲聋的歌声不请自来,随意飘进耳内,没什么比这更令人倒胃口的了。 费利克斯•吉莱特在《商业周刊》的封面报道中分析说,MySpace用户能够自行修改用户主页的设计,其实不失为该网站“最早的一个突破”。最初,由于网站开发人员的失误,反而误打误撞,结果是用户有权在其主页中插入超文本标记语言(HTML),“随心所欲地摆弄各种背景颜色,对其页面进行个性化设计,整个网站最终变成了一个电子乐横行的万花筒。这种奇异的审美趣味最终倒成了该网站的标志。” 对于当时的MySpace用户而言,这不失为一大卖点。但对那些恰恰因为这一点而不愿加入的人而言,它无疑是个漏洞。MySpace几乎是故意排斥年纪较长的人、智商比较高的人、以及更接近社会主流的人加入该网站。相反,Facebook则始终严格控制其用户页面设计,确保其中不会出现耀眼的图形和艳丽的色彩。只要愿意,上了年纪的大妈级人物也可以加入Facebook。重要的是,随着时间的流逝,真的有人这么干了。 正是靠着这种朴素的页面呈现方式,Facebook超越了“酷还是不酷”的问题。现在,对多数人而言,Facebook谈不上酷不酷,那就是它的存在方式。像电子邮件账户一样,它就是个用得着的应用程序。与老朽的MySpace不同,加入Facebook并不意味着就得公开个人的社会身份。MySpace用户一度以“MySpace人”自居,但没人会如法炮制,称自己是“Facebook人”。潮人们与他(她)们的母亲可以在Facebook上互为好友,而没人会因此感到大惊小怪,原因也正出于此。同样地,你可以跟自己的上司在Facebook上成为朋友,而且会欣然接受高中同学的朋友邀请,即便现在你们已经形同陌路。 出于同样的原因,如今Facebook的全球用户数已逼近10亿,而MySpace每个月都会流失几百万的用户;不仅如此,今年1月,该公司曾裁员500人,现在,又计划在仅剩的400人中,再解雇300人。结果剩下的就只有庞大的网络基础设施,迅速衰减的用户群(而且从人口统计学角度看,也不那么有吸引力的),还有那即便不太赚钱但仍然可观的网络流量资源。 当然,导致MySpace没落的原因多种多样。成立之初,它只是Intermix媒体(Intermix Media)公司的一部分,后者因为一些劣迹而声誉不佳。但是,在彼时的纽约总检察长艾利奥特•斯皮策下令开始对Intermix进行调查之前,当时该公司的所有者拒绝让MySpace独立,之后便将该网站以低价卖给了新闻集团。对一家以新锐为生存方式的网站来说,没什么比成为鲁伯特•默多克的私人财产更糟糕的了。 与Facebook不同,MySpace从未想过融入网络世界,即允许用户在其MySpace主页中随便转贴外部资料,或者使用其账户对外部网页发表评论等操作。MySpace的公司法人背负着实现季度营业目标的压力,这无疑窒息了网站的创新能力。尽管如此,他们也从未想过像Facebook那样从外部品牌寻找营业额的增长点。 但是,即便存在上述种种失误,如果当时MySpace能面向社会各类受众,它仍然有可能存活下来。现在,新闻集团急着以2,000万美元的低价将该网站出手,金额甚至不到其2005年收购价的4%。而Facebook呢?如今其身价已飚升至700亿美元,是MySpace目前售价的3,500倍。 译者:大海 It appears that MySpace might finally find sweet relief from its long, slow, painful demise. News reports on the company this week read like obituaries: The News Corp.-owned social network is planning massive layoffs, apparently in preparation to unload the company for a pittance. Those developments followed a detailed post-mortem from Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Its cover story this week, "The Rise and Inglorious Fall of MySpace," recounts how "[m]ismanagement, a flawed merger, and countless strategic blunders have accelerated Myspace's fall…" While it's surely true that MySpace's doom was hastened by News Corp.'s (NWS) bumbling management since the media giant bought the company for $580 million in 2005, it could be argued that the MySpace was doomed from the beginning. It's difficult to remember now, but MySpace was once considered cool. When it started in 2003, it was largely devoted to indie music, with bands joining to create profiles for themselves and circulate their music. The site never really tried to capitalize on that core audience. Anything that's considered cool is almost guaranteed to fall out of fashion. Not long after News Corp.'s purchase, predictions of MySpace's fall began circulating, even as the site was still growing. And not long after that, Facebook began to rise in popularity. Facebook, having been sort-of nerdy-cool in its early days, has since transcended the whole cool-uncool spectrum. More importantly, it was much more user-friendly and accessible to the mainstream. MySpace, meantime, insisted on sticking with a garish design and music that autostarted when a profile was opened. Nothing turns people off like a Kid Rock song blasting unbidden into their headphones. In his BusinessWeek article, Felix Gillette argues that MySpace users' ability to tweak their profile designs was one of the site's "first breakthroughs." The developers had accidentally allowed users to insert HTML into their profiles, "allowing them to play around with the background colors and personalize their pages, leading to the site's kaleidoscopic, techno-junkyard aesthetic, which became its trademark." For the site's users at the time, this was a feature. For users who might otherwise have signed up, it was a bug. MySpace has almost willfully discouraged older people, smarter people, and more mainstream people from joining. Facebook, meanwhile, has kept tight control over its design, which has remained free of blinking graphics and gaudy color schemes. Your elderly aunt could join it if she wanted to. And as time went on, she did. Facebook's vanilla presentation has helped it transcend questions of "cool." For most people, it's now considered neither cool nor uncool – it's just sort of there. It's almost a utility, like an email account. Unlike with the old MySpace, joining Facebook isn't about making a statement about your social identity. Nobody thinks of themselves as a "Facebooker" the way some people once thought of themselves as "MySpacers." That's why hipsters and their moms can be Facebook friends with each other and nobody thinks it's strange. It's why you can be Facebook friends with your boss, and why you readily accept friend requests from old high school friends with whom you have little in common. And that's why, as Facebook grows toward a billion users worldwide, MySpace is losing millions of users every month and is now reported to be planning layoffs of perhaps up to 300 of the 400 workers it has left after it let go 500 people in January. All that's left is a clunky networking infrastructure, a rapidly dwindling (and not very demographically desirable) member roster, and a source of still-considerable, if not very lucrative, Web traffic. Of course, there are many reasons for MySpace's fall. It started as part of a company, Intermix, that had the stink of sleaze about it. But the owners at the time refused to spin MySpace off before Eliot Spitzer, then New York's attorney general, began investigating Intermix, and the site was sold to News Corp. at a discount. For a site that relies on cool, nothing could be worse than ownership by Rupert Murdoch. Unlike Facebook, MySpace also never thought to interweave itself with the rest of the Web, allowing users to easily port outside material into their profiles, and to use their accounts to, for example, comment on outside Web pages. MySpace's corporate owners were forced to hit quarterly revenue targets, which stifled innovation, but they never thought to seek revenue through outside brands as Facebook has. But even with all those stumbles, MySpace could possibly have endured if only it had simply made itself accessible to people from all walks of life. And now News Corp. is hurriedly trying to sell the thing off for as little as $20 million, or less than 4 percent of what it paid in 2005. And Facebook? It's valued at $70 billion - or 3,500 times what MySpace is apparently worth.
  3. xingfu
    在城市里看不到璀璨的星空,不是因为星空在城市里变暗了,而是因为城市太亮了。在生活中看不清事实,不是因为在生活里事实不够明确,而是因为生活太烦嚣。静下心来,想一想,一切都会变得子虚乌有,心中只留下你最在乎的人或事。。只要知道你最在乎的,就不会轻易迷失了自己。
  4. xingfu

    挑战佳能与尼康,Lytro胜算几何?

    [img src="http://catf.me/photos/cc08d09d74cdda0ff1e56351c705b21a.jpg" width="177" height="177"] 作者: Michal Lev-Ram 时间: 2011年06月24日 来源: 财富中文网 即将由Lytro公司推出的相机只需一次拍摄,便可通过鼠标点击,在图像的任意位置重新聚焦。不过大多数摄像发烧友关心的唯一问题还是它的价格。 照相机市场出现黑马:Lytro公司。这家创业公司位于美国加利福尼亚州的山景城,仅有45名员工。该公司计划推出一款革命性的相机,用户可以在拍摄之后重新对图片进行聚焦,这一新技术有望给整个行业带来巨大影响。 这家一向韬光养晦的小公司终于破壁而出,于本周早些时候公布了其总体发展规划,正式向相机业巨掣佳能公司(Canon)和尼康公司(Nikon)发起了挑战。Lytro公司透露,其新款“光场”相机(light field)采用特殊的传感器,可以记录每一束光线的颜色、强度和方向,因此,与普通数码相机相比,该相机可以捕捉更多数据。而所捕捉的所有信息将被存储在每个图片文件中,用户可以用前所未有的方式编辑和处理照片——包括在拍摄之后将照片重新聚焦,以及修改拍摄角度等。此外,该款相机即使在弱光条件下也无需使用闪光灯即可正常拍摄。 我曾有幸亲眼见证了Lytro相机的编辑功能,可以说,它远比目前市场上的任何相机和图片编辑软都更出色、更酷。毫无疑问,该公司的技术创新很可能是相机行业突破性的变革——也许无法与相机的数码化相提并论,但无疑意义重大。 但Lytro公司并不打算把它的技术授权给现有的相机制造商,至少目前还没有这样的计划(Lytro公司创始人兼首席执行官吴义仁表示“不会说得过于绝对”)。这家创业公司计划在今年晚些时候推出自主品牌的Lytro相机,因为他们自信“能做得更好。”但是,尝试过进入消费电子领域的小公司都知道,要抢占那些“庞然大物”的地盘绝非易事。 公司CEO吴义仁表示,与几年前相比,现在成立一家相机公司要容易得多。Lytro相机将由一家台湾公司负责生产,并主要通过网络进行销售,渠道包括Facebook和其他一些网站。然而,除了早期使用者、技术人员和摄影发烧友之外,要让其他人接受这款相机还较为困难。Lytro公司目前尚未公布相机的价格,但价格同样是个关键。毕竟,普通摄影爱好者不可能花大价钱购买一款商品化的硬件设备,不管其功能多么强大。 Lytro公司要想单干,还有另外一个拦路虎——手机。越来越多的人开始放弃专用相机,转而用移动设备拍摄照片。所以,对于Lytro公司而言,更明智的做法是将技术授权给现有的手机制造商,而不是一头扎进另外一个商品化的消费电子市场,因为这个行业竞争更加激烈,并且已经饱和。 Lytro公司的光场技术前景广阔。该技术最早出现于二十世纪九十年代中期的斯坦福大学(Stanford University),当时还是一个研究课题。截至目前,要捕捉一个场景中各个方向的所有光线,需要数百台连接到计算机的相机同时工作。2006年,吴义仁关于光场成像技术的博士论文获得了斯坦福大学计算机科学最佳博士论文奖。而近几年,他一直致力于缩小公司识别传感器的尺寸,以便进行批量生产。 但即便是本•霍洛维茨也认为,开发捕捉光场的传感器或许并没有那么难。霍洛维茨是安德森•霍洛维茨基金(Andreessen Horowitz)的联合创始人,同时也是Lytro公司投资人。 霍洛维茨在周二发表的一篇博客中写道:“或许最困难的任务,是设计一款软件,可以从光场中生成一张,甚至成千上万张美丽的图片。过去几年,与手机的命运相同,相机也逐渐成为以软件为主要卖点的产品。过去5年,手机业发生了翻天覆地的变化,而相机业也将涌现出拥有世界级软件能力的新行业领袖。” 专注软件——而不是硬件——这或许是Lytro公司应该侧重软件/授权业务而远离消费电子产品业务的另外一个理由。 到目前为止,关于新款相机的具体发布时间(吴义仁表示将在今年晚些时候)和销售价格,Lytro公司依然没有给出明确的回应。公司已经获得约5,000万美元投资,投资方包括安德森•霍洛维茨基金、格雷洛克风险投资公司(Greylock Partners)和风险投资公司K9 Ventures,以及个人出资方,包括虚拟机软件公司VMWare联合创始人黛安妮•格林和斯灵传媒(Sling Media)联合创始人布莱克•克里科里安。尽管尚未面世,但Lytro的新型相机已在媒体引起轰动。 未来的Lytro相机是否会像佳能和尼康相机一样,最终变成大众消费品呢?这一点尚不确定;不过,我想它(非常酷)的核心技术肯定会得到普及。 There's a new player in the camera market: Lytro, a Mountain View, Calif.-based startup with just 45 employees, is hoping to disrupt the industry with an innovative camera that lets users focus a picture after it's been taken. The tiny company came out of stealth mode earlier this week, unveiling its master plan to take on heavyweights like Canon and Nikon. According to Lytro, its new "light field" cameras will capture more data than your average digital camera by using a special sensor that records the color, intensity and direction of every beam of light. Because all of this extra information is saved in each image file, users will be able to edit and play with their photos in new ways -- including refocusing a picture and changing its orientation after it's been taken. They'll also be able to take photos in low light conditions without using flash. After seeing Lytro's editing capabilities in action, I can tell you it's much, much cooler than anything current cameras and image editing software will let you do. And yes, the company's technology even has the potential to become a breakthrough innovation in the camera industry -- not on par with the move to digital but significant nonetheless. But Lytro isn't planning on licensing its technology to existing camera makers, at least not anytime soon (founder and CEO Ren Ng says "never say never"). The startup is planning on coming out with its own Lytro-branded camera later this year because it believes "we can do it better." But as any other small company that has tried cracking the consumer electronics industry knows, going up against the giants will be anything but easy. CEO Ng says it's much easier launching a camera company today than it would have been just a few years ago. A Taiwanese company will manufacture Lytro's cameras, which will be sold through online retailers and marketed on Facebook and other websites. Still, getting the word out beyond the early adopters, techies and photography fanatics could prove tricky. Pricing -- which Lytro has yet to announce -- will also be key, because it's unlikely your average picture-taker will pay a big premium for a commoditized piece of hardware, no matter how cool its features. And here's another possible hurdle for Lytro's plan to go at it alone -- cell phones. More and more people are ditching dedicated cameras and snapping pictures with their mobile device. So it would make sense for Lytro to someday license its technology to existing cell phone makers instead of jumping into yet another cutthroat, saturated and commoditized consumer electronics market. Lytro's light field technology is promising, and it's come a long way since its roots in a Stanford University lab, where it started out as a research project in the mid-1990s. Up until recently, capturing all of the light traveling in every direction in a particular scene required hundreds of cameras tied to a series of computers. But Ng, whose research in light field photography won best PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford back in 2006, has spent the last few years getting the company's signature sensors small enough for mass production. But even Ben Horowitz, one-half of Andreessen Horowitz and a Lytro investor, says developing the sensor that captures the light field may have been the easy part. "Building software that generates a beautiful picture, or thousands of different beautiful pictures, from the light field may be the most difficult task," Horowitz wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. "As cameras become primarily software products in the same way that phones became primarily software products over the past several years, new industry leaders with world-class software capabilities will emerge in the same way that the phone industry has turned upside down over the past 5 years." This focus on software -- not hardware -- is another reason Lytro might want to skew towards the software/licensing business and away from consumer electronics. For now, the company is remaining mum on exactly when its new cameras will launch (Ng says it will happen later this year) or how much they will cost. To date, the company has raised about $50 million from an impressive list of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners and K9 Ventures and individual funders like VMWare cofounder Diane Greene and Sling Media cofounder Blake Krikorian. And its launch is already making a big splash in the media. So will Lytro's cameras someday be as commonplace as Canons and Nikons? Doubtful, though I'm guessing its (very cool) underlying technology will.
  5. xingfu

    你想要私人小岛还是私人飞机?

    快四十年了,我一直都是香港主要的英文日报——《南华早报》的忠实读者。对于任何一件朝夕相处这么久的东西,特别是刊物,作为一名老读者,我是爱恨交织。 每天购买同一份刊物长达N年,或多或少都会让消费者(也就是我自己)对刊物本身、刊物的内容以及它的设计,或者至少是自己特别感兴趣、最关注的部分,比如喜欢的专栏作家、版块、特写、漫画或者其他什么产生一种类似主人翁的感觉。 最近,《南华早报》聘请了一位世界知名的设计大师,对报纸进行重新设计。为此,我要向他们脱帽致敬,感谢他们为推陈出新所作出的努力和投入。尤其是在当下,平面媒体无可非议地都在关注改头换面,从设计到经营模式无一例外。此举不仅明智而且大有必要,因为只有这样才能应对愈演愈烈、全方位冲击消费者的信息爆炸。 也许是因为上了年纪(怎么也算是“金兔”或者更年长了),我一边为定期改变设计叫好,而一边却又在心里嘀咕: • 该死的!他们把原来的“whatsit”挪到哪儿去了? • 新的电视节目预告简直没法看。 • 这个新栏目是个什么玩意? • 这颜色整个一个大杂烩。 • 这么傻的文章是谁让发表的? • 这标题真够忽悠人的。 也就是说,熟悉的产品突然大肆改动设计可以引起消费者的关注,让他们从某种程度上感谢其中的努力,但同时也伴随着不信任的抵触情绪,对某些变动的合理性还会产生质疑。但我相信所有这些都是健康的。抵触情绪一般只会持续上三两天,随后就会淡忘或者转移到别处。反正《南华早报》我现在还是照看不误。 结果我最近就从南华早报的商业版上看到一篇文章,是当天的头版头条,题目是: 《私人岛屿成大陆富豪烧钱新宠》 文章的主旨是说中国的超级富豪如今已加入比尔•盖茨和理查德•布兰森之列,开始在全球购买私人岛屿作为世外桃源。我相信确有其事,但对文章中渲染的此类现象的严重程度和广泛规模不敢苟同。 巧合的是,当天商业版末版的头条是《私人飞机欢迎您》— —通篇写的是“私人飞机将成为大陆富豪的下一个必需品”。与私人岛屿一文相比,该报道用详实的数据说明个人及企业的私人飞机热不仅真实存在,而且正在持续升温。 两篇文章的显著区别在于:私人岛屿的撰文基础是香港某专为大陆投资者提供高价岛屿买卖的地产中介的爆料,而私人飞机的报道数据则来源于航空业内的多个渠道,视角更为平衡、客观。 乍看到买岛的文章,我觉得自己虽然还有很多事都不擅长,但在岛上生活方面却相对算得上专家,毕竟我看《南华早报》有多少年就在岛上生活有多少年了。 过去大概二十五年我一直都住在香港岛。再往前推十年,我住在香港的另一座小岛上,那时岛上连公路、机动车和卡车都还没有呢。 (在这儿我就不提小岛的名字了,以防某个大陆富豪明天突然杀将过来,把小岛收入囊中。) 通过读小岛这篇文章让我感觉富裕的中国人正陷入全球收购小岛的热潮,从蛮荒的弹丸之地(价格约500万美元)到售价数千万美元、附带豪华居所、游艇码头、棕榈树、停机坪等全套设备的梦幻天堂都不放过。 对中国人全球买岛热的真实程度,我还是心存疑虑。 一个问题就是,大部分私人岛屿都没有上好的中餐,除非自备。但比起准备烧烤用的香肠、鸡翅和汉堡来说,中餐的备餐要复杂得多。 再有就是假如你有大把银子可以购买高档私人岛屿,个人和家庭的安保似乎是个大问题。除非你愿意修个堡垒要塞,否则私人岛屿的风险比较高。对超级富豪而言,绑票是个大威胁。 另外,中国女性之所以步入中年还能保持幼嫩的肌肤,是因为她们非常注重保养,除了控制饮食、选择健康的生活方式以外,还会尽量避免日晒。而小岛、沙滩则是偏“阳光”而非“荫凉”的场所,也就是说是会催生皱纹的去处。 除此种种,岛上还会有蛇(我的厨房就溜进过眼镜蛇——真的!)、耗子、蝎子、蚊子、沙蝇,生活中还会遇到晕船、台风、飓风、洪水、找不到急救医生等情况,此外,岛上完全没有购物中心,买不着奢侈品。 我要屏息静观中国富豪全球购岛的数量是否会出现飙升。 而私人飞机就另当别论了。 同时,这也说明,包括记者在内的很多人都很容易轻信最近中国富豪热衷抢购的任何传闻。 Would You Prefer a Private Island, or a Private Jet? I've been a loyal reader of the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Hong Kong's leading English language daily, for nearly 40 years. Like almost anything we interact with on a daily basis for that long, especially a media product, my experience as a long-term reader sometimes has elements of a love-hate relationship. Consuming a media product nearly every day for so many years somehow gives the consumer (in this case, me) a sense of quasi-ownership, of the product, its contents, its design, etc., or at least the parts of it which they are especially fond of and thus follow most closely: favorite columnists, sections, features, cartoons, or whatever. The SCMP recently brought in a world-renowned design guru for a complete redesign. Hats off to them for taking the initiative to invest in an improved, fresh look. Especially nowadays, print media are justifiably focused on reinvention of everything from their design to their business models. This is smart, and necessary to keep up with the competitive explosion of information bombarding consumers from all angles. Maybe it's an age thing (ie reserved for Golden Rabbits and above), but while I applaud the need for occasional redesign, there's also the cranky voice inside me which says things like: • Where in the hell have they moved old 'whatsit' to? • The new TV program guide is unreadable. • What's this new column? • Those colors look like a dog's breakfast. • Who signed off on this dopey article? • That headline is so big it just punched me in the nose. Which means that, as a consumer, dramatic redesign of a familiar product gets my clear attention, plus a certain degree of appreciation for the effort, accompanied by a release of somewhat cynical push-back and questioning of the rationale for some of the changes. All of which is a healthy dynamic, I think. The push-back usually only lasts a few days and then we tend to forget about it, or go elsewhere. Anyway, I'm still reading the paper. Which brings me to a recent lead article in the SCMP Business Post, the SCMP's business section. On this particular day, the lead story on the front page carried this sub-headline: "Mainlanders are going big in their hunt for more luxury as private islands around the world emerge as sound opportunities to put down their money." The thrust of this article is that China's super-rich are now joining the ranks of Bill Gates and Richard Branson in buying private get-away islands around the world. I'm sure it's true, but I'm not convinced it's quite that big a story or a very widespread phenomenon. By coincidence, the top story on the back page of the same day's Business Post is headlined "Welcome to the Private Jet Set" -- all about how "private planes are becoming the next 'must have' for mainland moguls." Compared with the private islands story, there's clear evidence that the private jet ownership trend is real and growing, for individuals as well as companies. One salient difference between the two articles is that the "private islands" piece was essentially based on inputs from one Hong Kong-based property agency specializing in selling high-priced islands to mainland Chinese investors, whereas the "private jets" piece sourced data from a variety of aviation industry sources, offering the probability of a more balanced, more objective perspective. When I read the islands article it suddenly occurred to me that while I am not an expert on many things, I am relatively expert on island living, since I have been living on an island for as long as I have been reading the South China Morning Post. For the past 25 years or so, I've lived on Hong Kong Island. For ten years before that, I lived on another island within Hong Kong, which at the time had no paved roads, automobiles or trucks. (I prefer not to reveal the name of the island here in case some wealthy mainland tycoon swoops down and buys it tomorrow.) The impression I got from reading the "islands" article is that wealthier mainland Chinese are engaged in a huge feeding frenzy of buying up islands around the globe, ranging in price from a tiny, undeveloped postage stamp of a place (about US$5 million), to those much fancier, sexier locations with luxury homes, boat docks, palm trees, helicopter landing pads, etc. selling for tens of millions of US dollars or much more. I have my doubts about the real extent of this frenzy of global Chinese island buying. For one thing, most private islands do not offer good Chinese food unless you bring and prepare your own, which in the case of Chinese food, is much more complex than preparing wieners, chicken wings and burgers for BBQ. For another, if you have the kind of moolah required to buy an upscale private island, personal and family security is likely to be a big concern. Unless you want to build a small fortress, private islands are risky spots. Kidnapping is a big threat in the minds of super wealthy tycoons. And another: one reason why Chinese women generally have such lovely skin even into middle age is that they take very good care of it, through diet and lifestyle. choices as well as mostly staying out of the sun. Islands and their beaches are generally more "in the sun" than "in the shade" places to hang out. In other words, wrinkle city. Apart from these factors there are the snakes (I once had a cobra in my kitchen -- honest), the rats, bats, scorpions, mosquitoes, sand flies, seasickness, typhoons, hurricanes, flooding, inaccessibility to urgent medical care, and total lack of shopping malls with luxury brand retailers. I'll hold my breath with regard to the forecast of a big surge in numbers of wealthy mainland Chinese buying up private islands around the world. Private jets is another story. It also goes to show that lots of people, journalists included, are very susceptible to believing almost anything about what wealthy mainland Chinese are rushing to buy these days.
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