RedPad, technology innovation from state capitalism
Can innovative entrepreneurship prosper in state capitalism? A Beijing company called Red Technology （红派科技） said “Yes” and announced its new product that aims to rival the influential iPad: the RedPad, a pad tailor-made for the Chinese government officials. The innovation of this RedPad does not lie in its hardware or software, it looks no different from other pads and runs on the Android system. What makes it stand out, according to Red Technology, is that it offers a unique information service that helps government officials to read the minds of top leaders of the central government and stay informed about public discussions online, also, it guarantees complete online privacy of its users.
The RedPad sells at 9999 RMB each, twice as much as the price of iPad in China, though it offers a wholesale discounted price of 7100RMB to government institutions. Why would Red Technology think officials will pay such a hefty price for a copycat product? I think we should not under-estimate Red Technology’s ingenuity, at least, it has the profound insight that Chinese government officials live in a completely different world from common people, so of course the Internet means something completely different to them than to common people. The RedPad’s selling points indeed meet the specific demands of officials: to know what their superiors are thinking, and to control what their inferiors know and say about them. And high price is not an issue for people who are spending other people’s money. In RedPad, we see the kind of innovation that truly matters in China: Creative Ass-kissing, and the perfection of an established business model of state capitalism: privatization of public money. Continue reading