Appropriate Ideas from Unfamiliar Places

Everyone has an opinion on Chinese made products. Some go as “Wow, its so cheap why pay anything more” or “I hate cheap Chinese products, they never last like the brand names” I have to admit I flick from side to side on those two stances depending on the product and how much money I have on me at the time.

But looking beyond those two sides of the coin, one advantage of Chinese products that seems to pop up from time to time is the effort to innovate on the product in interesting ways. I began thinking about this after reading an article in Wired about how it was the Chinese fake iPhones and BlackBerry’s that developed the concept of dual SIM cards which is highly appropriate in a market like PNG where people often switch between networks depending on whether they may be calling a bemobile, Digicel or landline number.

In other words its a concept that wouldn’t be given a second glance in a Western market. Another example that impressed me was this fan (pictured above) with a rechargeable battery to use during blackouts and with an added lamp inbuilt for light as well. Now is that clever or what?

So once again I had to draw an analogy from this fan to geo-political pressures in the South Pacific region. Not all is bad from China, they have some more relevant approaches for economic development as opposed to  say our Big Sister Australia. Likewise not everything coming from Australia or the western world is good for us.

I guess it’s just keeping an open mind about picking out what works for us without giving our all to either side. Maybe that’s why they call it ‘appropriate technology’. That is, working out what is appropriate for us no matter where the solutions come from.


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