I am back in Beijing for a business trip and will try to take some pictures that are hopefully unique. Today it was overcast and raining intermittently, so I left my camera in the hotel, expecting that I will have better weather soon. I saw some great things, though, and regretted not having my camera with me after all. One was a new shoe shop in the Sanlitun area that was filled with people still at 9pm on a Sunday. The shop’s neon name sign read: “C.P.U.” In China you never know if such names are used on purpose or by accident.
Not far away was the white Apple logo, standing above China’s first Apple store and completely dominating the shopping center skyline. The store was also still well frequented at this time, and the Apple people were actively selling with presentations on large LCD monitors to young and old, presumably explaining how much better the kids will be able to study with a MacBook and relax with an iPod.
The bars were empty, though. as you would expect on a Sunday evening, although of course I bet this was different during the Olympics. Maybe they were also busier earlier in the year: my not very representative survey talking to people shows that people are fully aware of the stock market crash and expecting that China, too, will be hit economically. Many people seem to have stayed in the market and have now lost big (one woman told me she bought China Oil for 15k RMB and it is now only worth 5k). Pessimistic people commenting on the Internet expect that it will take tens of years to recover; I bet it will be much much shorter.
One other interesting thing I noticed in a cab was a touch LCD monitor built into the rear of the front seat showing all kinds of ads. It was possible to turn off the audio, so it seemed fair enough. The text was in Mandarin only. Googling around a bit I found whose project this was: General Electric did it in 1000 Beijing cabs for the Olympics. Also interesting to read how social networking, blogging, all sorts of viral marketing ideas and much more was taken into consideration in the biggest ever online media blitz during these past Olympics.
Lastly, I was already able to make great use of an iPhone app called Beijing Taxi Guide. It is from the www.thebeijinger.com and let’s you find most of the hotels, sights, restaurants etc. The guide provides you with the place’s address, phone number and something even better: a full-screen Chinese character description of where to find it. Since the Beijing taxi drivers don’t speak English and often have problems understanding foreigners, this works great (mostly, at least: one taxi driver could still not find the place, which was more his problem than the iPhone guide I think. At least I managed to call the number quickly and they could direct us nicely. And it looks like even better Beijing guides with maps are on the way, but of course the one who came out first has an advantage: time to market(ing) is key for online marketing. I was impressed: this was a really good example of how to digitally promote your business through location-based services.