Wednesday, April 27, 2016

From Cell Phones to Commercial Jets

I am a cheapskate when it comes to smartphones. In Melbourne, I signed up with Optus many years ago and since then have been given the opportunity to own the latest iPhone “FOC” each time I renew my contract.

iPhones are goldilocks to me; they are just right in everything. You don’t get unpleasant surprises.

But I spend quite a bit of time overseas. I am too lazy to keep changing SIM cards. I therefore equip myself with spare phones to house local SIMs. Alcatel sold by Australia Post was very affordable. It was very easy to use. But I soon I noticed that many SMS messages appeared only days later. That was bad; I decided to go slightly up-market and bought myself a Blackberry Z10 when I was in Singapore.

I used to be issued with BlackBerry in the mid-2000s. I could send and receive emails as long as there was signal. Typing was effortless. I could not do without it. But this Z10 was so different from the BlackBerry I knew. It must be the most “not-so-smart” smartphone in the market!

To perform a simple task, you have to swipe here and swipe there, all very confusing indeed! But what makes me hate the phone is this: for no reasons, its alarm would suddenly go off. (How would you feel, when it was 11:50pm, or 10 minutes before midnight, when it happened?) The reset was too complicated for me to handle. In the first place, who would make such a silly request? I definitely would not want to be woken up 10 minutes before midnight, would I?)

But I had to live with this silly BlackBerry when I was outside Australia.

Kaeden and Maxel recently followed us to spend this school break in Kuala Lumpur. Kaeden, who is now in Year 7, had been wanting to get a smartphone. He knew what he wanted; he chose a RM500 Oppo. I also asked my wife to get one, which she is finding WhatsApp useful. (Hitherto, she had been using a Samsung 2G phone, She said she only needed a simple phone to receive and make calls.)

I settled for a RM500 Lenovo model instead. What a mistake!

Both Oppo and Lenovo are made in China, but you can see a difference on closer look. The latter is like a Chery and the former, a Toyota. Lenovo is Chinese-owned; Oppo, I understand, is not. No wonder, notwithstanding the former’s IBM DNA!

With Oppo, the keypad is exact, whereas in the case of Lenovo, you need to have a strong finger to effect your command. The Lenovo homescreen is also too cheeena, at least in terms of colours. I should have listened to my grandson!

Just as I was still trying to make myself comfortable with my new Lenovo toy, I saw this Channel NewsAsia headline: Delayed take-off for China's own regional jet: China's homegrown ARJ21 jet has yet to fly any fare-paying passengers after initially scheduling its first commercial flight on Feb 28.

Was I surprised by the news?

Certainly not! Why? Because it is 100% Chinese!

China may have the Engineering “knowledge” to make Airbus 380, but it will still take many years before its ARJ21s are confidently used by non-Chinese airlines. China simply does not have the right quality, safety and taste culture ingrained in its society to make the likes of Boeing, Rolex, Mercedes, and what-have-you YET!

I hate to say this (and many of my friends will "kill" me for it too!): In respect of quality, safety and taste, Chinese still have a great deal to learn from their arch rival (or enemy). You know who they are, don't you? 

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