Bill Zhang

Friday, November 04, 2005

Nokia, EMI, Free Record Shop and Robert's Coffee Promote Local Download of Mobile Content

The consumers are now able to download the latest music and related content from EMI artists to their phones in selected Free Record Shop music stores and Robert's Coffee cafes in Helsinki area, Finland. The service is called bFree.

The content download is made possible with Nokia Local Content Channel Solution, CoolZone, launched earlier today. CoolZone is a local delivery channel for any digital content and uses Bluetooth technology to distribute the content to the consumers' phones in retail locations. The service is always customized according to the retailer's or service provider's own brand.

The bFree service offers the consumers not only music, ring tones, wallpapers and videos but also CD and video top 10 lists, and coupons to participating stores. Once music fans enter a participating store, they can download the bFree application to their phone, enabling them to browse available content. During the trial period, content downloads are free of charge, and closely linked to existing campaigns in the store.

"Rich digital content is widely available and requires an efficient distribution channel. Local mobility solutions create new types of business possibilities to individuals, location owners and enterprises. CoolZone is a Bluetooth technology based content distribution system available to any retailer or location owner who wants to offer or sell digital content to their customers, and thus enhance the in-store experience," said Sakari Kotola, Director, Nokia Ventures Organization.

Doug Lucas, vice president of digital development and distribution for EMI Music in Europe said: "EMI wants to make sure that fans are provided with easy access to new music and the music of the artists they love in the most direct and effective way. This deal gives us a new and innovative means of doing that."

"bFree helps us appeal to customers as number one entertainment shop chain where you can experience something new each visit. With bFree we can offer contemporary extra services and campaigns as well as digital content outside our internet shop. Together with Robert's Coffee we create our customers the possibility to familiarize themselves with latest news of the music world in two different kinds of environment" said Elena Kataja, General Manager, Free Record Shop.

"One of the aspects of the service is using CoolZone to cross promote products to customers visiting Free Record Shop and Robert's Coffee. We have similar customers segments and locations, which gives great possibilities for that. This also fits well with our new netcup concept which enables consumers to surf Internet when enjoying a cup of coffee in our coffee shops," said Tomi Miininen, Managing Director, Robert's Coffee.

The CoolZone solution consists of three elements: Nokia Local Content Channel Client software (Symbian for the Series 60 devices, Java for Nokia Series 40 and other manufacturers' phones), Nokia Service Point LCP10 and Nokia Service Manager LCM10 management system. While the service is currently Bluetooth based, WLAN will be added in the near future, as more phones will offer WLAN capability.

CoolZone will be demonstrated at the Nokia Mobility Conference 2005 in Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain during November 2-3, 2005 with content from EMI.

bFree is available in three Free Record Shop music stores and three Rober's Coffee cafes in Helsinki area, Finland.

About EMI Music

EMI is the world's largest independent music company, operating directly in 50 countries. Its EMI Music division represents more than 1,000 artists spanning all musical tastes and genres. Its record labels include Angel, Astralwerks, Blue Note, Capitol, Capitol Nashville, EMI Classics, EMI CMG, EMI Records, EMI Televisa Music, Manhattan, Mute, Parlophone and Virgin.

www.emigroup.com

About Free Record Shop

Free Record Shop is a number one entertainment retail chain selling music, movies and games. Free Record Shop is a Dutch based company operating in five countries in Northern Europe with more than 300 shops. Free Record Shop sells also a variety of digital products in its internet shops. FRS is known for being a front runner in entertainment retailing always looking for new possibilities and products to ensure customer satisfaction and interest.

www.frs.fi

About Robert's Coffee

Robert's Coffee is the biggest coffee shop chain in the Nordic Countries that has its own gourmet coffee roastery. The chain has coffee product process in its own hands - from coffee tree to the cup. The secret of the cup is the fresh roasted gourmet coffee. Robert's Coffee was founded by Robert Paulig in Helsinki, Finland in 1987. Nowadays there is almost 50 coffee shops in Finland, Sweden, Estonia and in Denmark.

www.robertscoffee.com

Note:

Additional information for Nokia Local Content Channel Solution, CoolZone can be found from www.nokia.com/localcontent or www.nokia.com/coolzone

Additional information for consumers can also be found from http://coolzone.nokia.com

Nokia Mobility Conference takes place on November 2 - 3, 2005 in Barcelona, Spain.

For more information, please visit: www.nokia.com/nmc

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

China, India Superpower? Not so Fast!

By Pranab Bardhan

The media, particularly the financial press, are all agog over the rise of China and India in the international economy. After a long period of relative stagnation, these two countries, nearly two-fifths of the world population, have seen their incomes grow at remarkably high rates over the last two decades. Journalists have referred to their economic reforms and integration into the world economy in all kinds of colorful metaphors: giants shaking off their "socialist slumber," "caged tigers" unshackled, and so on. Columnists have sent breathless reports from Beijing and Bangalore about the inexorable competition from these two new whiz kids in our complacent neighborhood in a "flattened," globalized, playing field. Others have warned about the momentous implications of "three billion new capitalists," largely from China and India, redefining the next phase of globalization.

While there is no doubt about the great potential of these two economies in the rest of this century, severe structural and institutional problems will hobble them for years to come. At this point, the hype about the Indian economy seems patently premature, and the risks on the horizon for the Chinese polity – and hence for economic stability – highly underestimated.

Both China and India are still desperately poor countries. Of the total of 2.3 billion people in these two countries, nearly 1.5 billion earn less than US$2 a day, according to World Bank calculations. Of course, the lifting of hundreds of millions of people above poverty in China has been historic. Thanks to repeated assertions in the international financial press, conventional wisdom now suggests that globalization is responsible for this feat. Yet a substantial part of China's decline in poverty since 1980 already happened by mid-1980s (largely as a result of agricultural growth), before the big strides in foreign trade and investment in the 1990s. Assertions about Indian poverty reduction primarily through trade liberalization are even shakier. In the nineties, the decade of major trade liberalization, the rate of decline in poverty by some aggregative estimates has, if anything, slowed down. In any case, India is as yet a minor player in world trade, contributing less than one percent of world exports. (China's share is about 6 percent.)

What about the hordes of Indian software engineers, call-center operators, and back-room programmers supposedly hollowing out white-collar jobs in rich countries? The total number of workers in all possible forms of IT-related jobs in India comes to less than a million workers – one-quarter of one percent of the Indian labor force. For all its Nobel Prizes and brilliant scholars and professionals, India is the largest single-country contributor to the pool of illiterate people in the world. Lifting them out of poverty and dead-end menial jobs will remain a Herculean task for decades to come.

Even in China, now considered the manufacturing workshop of the world (though China's share in the worldwide manufacturing value-added is below 9 percent, less than half that of Japan or the United States), less than one-fifth of its labor force is employed in manufacturing, mining, and construction combined. In fact, China has lost tens of millions of manufacturing jobs since the mid-1990s. Nearly half of the country's labor force remains in agriculture (about 60 percent in India). As per acre productivity growth has stagnated, reabsorbing the hundreds of millions of peasants will remain a challenge in the foreseeable future for both countries. Domestic private enterprise in China, while active and growing, is relatively weak, and Chinese banks are burdened with "bad" loans. By most aggregative measures, capital is used much less efficiently in China than in India, even though in terms of physical infrastructure and progress in education and health, China is better poised for further economic growth. Commercial regulatory structures in both countries are still slow and heavy-handed. According to the World Bank, to start a business requires in India 71 days, in China 48 days (compared to 6 days in Singapore); enforcing debt contracts requires 425 days in India, 241 days in China (69 days in Singapore).

China's authoritarian system of government will likely be a major economic liability in the long run, regardless of its immediate implications for short-run policy decisions. In the economic reform process, the Chinese leadership has often made bold decisions and implemented them relatively quickly and decisively, whereas in India, reform has been halting and hesitant. This is usually attributed to the inevitably slow processes of democracy in India. And though this may be the case, other factors are involved. For example, the major disruptions and hardships of restructuring in the Chinese economy were rendered somewhat tolerable by a minimum rural safety net – made possible to a large extent by land reforms in 1978. In most parts of India, no similar rural safety net exists for the poor; and the more severe educational inequality in India makes the absorption of shocks in the industrial labor market more difficult. So the resistance to the competitive process of market reform is that much stiffer.

But inequalities (particularly rural-urban) have been increasing in China, and those left behind are getting restive. With massive layoffs in the rust-belt provinces, arbitrary local levies on farmers, pervasive official corruption, and toxic industrial dumping, many in the countryside are highly agitated. Chinese police records indicate a sevenfold increase in the number of incidents of social unrest in the last decade.

China is far behind India in the ability to politically manage conflicts, and this may prove to be China's Achilles' Heel. Over the last fifty years, India's extremely heterogeneous society has been riddled with various kinds of conflicts, but the system has by and large managed these conflicts and kept them within moderate bounds. For many centuries, the homogenizing tradition of Chinese high culture, language, and bureaucracy has not given much scope to pluralism and diversity, and a centralizing, authoritarian Communist Party has carried on with this tradition. There is a certain pre-occupation with order and stability in China (not just in the Party), a tendency to over-react to difficult situations, and a quickness to brand dissenting movements and local autonomy efforts as seditious, and it is in this context that one sees dark clouds on the horizon for China's polity and therefore the economy.

We should not lose our sense of proportion in thinking about the rise of China and India. While adjusting its economies to the new reality and utilizing the new opportunities, the West should not overlook the enormity of the economic gap that exists between it and those two countries (particularly India). There are many severe pitfalls and roadblocks which they have to overcome in the near future, before they can become significant players in the international economic scene on a sustained basis.

Pranab Bardhan is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-chair of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Network on the Effects of Inequality on Economic Performance. He is Chief Editor of the Journal of Development.

China's Next Big Boom Could Be the Foul Air

From NY times

The steady barrage of statistics trumpeting China's rise is often greeted elsewhere as if the figures were torpedoes and the rest of the world a sinking ship. Economic growth tops 9 percent! Textile exports jump 500 percent! Military spending up! Manufacturing up!

What should the Chinese government do to control pollution? The numbers inflame the exaggerated perception that China is methodically inhaling jobs and resources and, in the process, inhaling the rest of the planet. Burp. There goes the American furniture industry. Burp. Thanks for your oil, Venezuela.

But one statistic offered last week by a top Chinese environmental official should stimulate genuine alarm inside and outside China. The official, Zhang Lijun, warned that pollution levels here could more than quadruple within 15 years if the country does not curb its rapid growth in energy consumption and automobile use.

China, it seems, has reached a tipping point familiar to many developed countries, including the United States, that have raced headlong after economic development only to look up suddenly and see the environmental carnage. The difference with China, as is so often the case, is that the potential problems are much bigger, have happened much faster and could pose greater concerns for the entire world.

"I don't think it will jump four or five times," Robert Watson, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said of the pollution prediction by Mr. Zhang. "But it could double or triple without too much trouble. And that's a scary thought, given how bad things are now."

China is already the world's second-biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to surpass the United States as the biggest. Roughly a third of China is exposed to acid rain. A recent study by a Chinese research institute found that 400,000 people die prematurely every year in China from diseases linked to air pollution.

Nor does China's air pollution respect borders: on certain days almost 25 percent of the particulate matter clotting the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental experts in California predict that China could eventually account for roughly a third of the state's air pollution.

The air problem could become a major embarrassment if, as some experts believe, Beijing does not meet its environmental targets for 2008, when the Olympic Games will be played here.

For the Chinese government, the question is how to change the country's booming economy without crippling it. President Hu Jintao has made "sustainable development" a centerpiece of his effort to shift the country from unbridled growth to a more efficient economy. Mr. Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have repeatedly mentioned environmental protection in speeches.

The political attention comes as environmental problems are begetting social and economic problems. Violent riots have erupted in the countryside over contaminated water, stunted crops and mounting health woes. In a handful of villages, farmers have stormed chemical factories to stop the dumping of filthy water. Roughly 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted. In cities, people drink bottled water; in the countryside, most people are too poor to pay for bottled water, so they boil polluted water or simply drink it.

Public anger is also rising in cities. In some, air pollution is so thick that on the worst days doctors advise, impractically, against going outside. Last week, hundreds of people living in the Beijing outskirts protested plans for a factory they fear would inundate the neighborhood with pollution.

The severity of the situation has created an opening for environmentalists in and out of the government. Environmentalism is a chic issue for college students, who have participated in garbage cleanups and joined the growing number of nongovernment organizations focused on pollution. The once-meek State Environmental Protection Administration, or SEPA, has become more aggressive in identifying and going after polluters and calling for reforms.

But the political and practical obstacles are formidable. Car ownership has become part of the Chinese middle-class dream, and the car industry has become a major contributor to tax coffers and a force in the overall economy.

What should the Chinese government do to control pollution? Industrial pollution is difficult to control because local officials often ignore emissions standards to appease polluting factories that pay local taxes. SEPA has closed factories, only to see them reopen weeks later. To make a serious reduction in air pollution, experts say, tougher, enforceable standards are needed, and many factories would need new pollution control equipment.

"There has to be the political will," said Steve Page, director of the E.P.A office of air quality planning and standards. "The challenge they face is how will these plants be lined up and told this will happen?"

Politically, the Communist Party has based its legitimacy on delivering economic growth and understands that the boom cannot be taken for granted: high growth is needed simply to keep unemployment in check, and top leaders fear that a slowdown could lead to social instability. Local officials are promoted, foremost, for delivering economic growth. This is why environmental officials have pushed for a new "green G.D.P.," which would alter how gross domestic product is calculated to reflect losses inflicted by environmental degradation.

The party is suspicious of environmental groups because of the role similar groups played in promoting grass-roots democracy in the "color" revolutions of central Asia. Human Rights Watch reported that some environmentalists were recently arrested.

But if there is resistance, there is progress, too. A law taking effect next year will require that China produce 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Fuel efficiency standards for new cars are already stricter than those in the United States. At an air pollution conference last Monday, environmental officials solicited advice from their peers in Europe and the United States.

Mr. Page, the E.P.A. official, praised Chinese officials and said China is considering the sort of regional pollution abatement strategies used in the United States. "They are wrestling with a lot of the same pollution problems that we wrestled with several years ago and that, to some extent, we still are grappling with," said Mr. Page, who attended the conference.

Ma Jun, an independent environmentalist based in Beijing, also praised the efforts by SEPA. Mr. Ma said China's status as the "workshop of the world" made it inevitable that its share of the world's pollution would increase. But he also cautioned that too many government ministries remained consumed by economic development. He said the government also needed to recognize the "environmental rights" of citizens.

"The pollution problem," he said, "is very serious."