Leader: China bound

Success in Asia will be no easy task
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

Success in Asia will be no easy task

Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of China. And who wouldn't - with some 1.3 billion citizens, millions of whom are digitally savvy, already on broadband and toting a mobile. Holding a minor slice of this market means more than dominating many locales, in both number of users and revenues.

Just today Richard Branson said Virgin is willing to invest up to $300m to launch a mobile venture in China - and he still wants to launch a Virgin Megastore in the country despite the widespread music piracy. Last week CA said it wants to at least triple the revenue it is generating in China over the next four years. Both echo the Asian ambitions so prevalent in IT these days.

But this is easier said than done - a point not lost on CA CEO John Swainson, who recently told silicon.com: "China is a territory that everybody wants to be involved in but it is also a very difficult country to do business in."

We concur.

Among the difficulties for Western businesses hoping to move into Asia are the very different ideas on intellectual property rights, freedom of expression and privacy.

The latter issue appeared in the news today, with Chinese Ministry of Information saying it's going to require all mobile phone users to register their personal information with mobile providers - or risk losing their service.

At some point, all these hitches are going to start catching up with all the companies attempting to break into China. We're not saying the country, and the rest of East Asia, isn't a huge opportunity. It is - and many companies will find ways to take advantage of it.

But unleashing Western business practices, products and services on those 1.3 billion Chinese won't be a simple or perhaps effective process - wooing China will take a new approach. Which is why we're betting Virgin's Asian mobile efforts may work out better than that Shanghai Megastore.

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