Shenzhen gilt zurecht als Welthauptstadt der Elektronik: heute haben 9 von 10 Elektronikgeräten mindestens eine Komponente aus Shenzhen verbaut. Wie Shenzhen mit Open Source und einer offenen Innovationskultur zum disruptiven Maker Hub wurde, erklärt David Li, Gründer des Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab, im C-Suite-Interview.
Wollen Sie erfahren, was sich auch Ihr Unternehmen vom Shenzhen sudu abschauen kann? Diskutieren Sie mit David Li und den anderen exklusiven Sprechern bei der C-SUITE am 28. und 29. Juni in Berlin.
Interview with David Li, founder Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab
David, has the word hacker an unjustified negative image?
David Li: Hackers refer to people solving problems with things around them with clever solutions. The term was unfortunately hijacked by the popular media in the late 90s when the Internet became mainstream and network intrusion incidents started to happen. The proper term for the network break-in is called cracking and the groups are called crackers. But „Crackers breaking into major Internet companies“ sounds too much like a cookie monsters skit in Sesame Street. The term Hacker was picked up by media in place of the term cracker and it stuck.
Could you explain in a few sentences what the Maker Movement is & what it is all about?
David Li: Maker movement in the past 15 years has been driven three key factors: inexpensive and open source electronics that let newcomers build new interactive features, affordable digital fabrication machines that enabled easy creation and replication of digital design objects and Internet sharing that forester Internet community to share the first two. With cheap hardware and easy access to open blueprints, the maker movement empowered more people around the world to build things.
How has Shenzen become probably the biggest maker hub in the world? Can you describe the Shenzen spirit?
David Li: The Maker movement is the latest in the long trend the democratization of technologies and commoditization of the mean of production. Shenzhen was on this trend right before the maker movement as the first special economic zone in China in 1980 that kicked of the global movement in the creation and production of information technologies objects from the personal computer to mobile phones to smartphones to now all the Internet of things. Today, 90% of the global electronics has Shenzhen as part of their production cycle.
That 90% scale in Shenzhen is archived not simply by a few major manufacturers but by a highly integrated, open and collaborative ecosystem composed of hundreds of thousands factories, hundreds of thousands of engineers and designers that enabling the city of 15 millions to produce 90% needs of connected devices of global seven billions addressing every niche and regional markets.
In Chinese, speed is „sudu“ and very fast speed is called „Shenzhen sudu.“ That sums up the spirit of Shenzhen to address every need in the fastest and most cost-efficient way with the resources available today and now. Shenzhen took on the time honor hacker spirit of problem-solving and scale this globally to build up of the world’s fastest-growing city.
The mass manufacturing base and the open innovation ecosystem in Shenzhen has made it the biggest maker hub attracting makers from all over the world to take their ideas and prototypes to the real production and make real impacts.
What can traditional companies that want to innovate themselves and their products learn from Shenzen, the (SZOIL) & the Maker Movement?
David Li: Shenzhen open innovation ecosystem works in a horizontally integrated and vertically collaborative fashion. Ideas, design, engineering, and production flow freely and mix and match to produce new solutions and products addressing niche and regional need. The rapid time to market for new ideas measured in weeks, not months enables quick market validation and rapid iterations. The open system is one of the best examples of adjunct possible in innovation theory and constantly produce goods and companies to disrupt major industries.
SZOIL was supported by Shenzhen Government to be the bridge to help international makers and companies to learn, engage and collaborate with this massive scale ecosystem.
Over the past three years, our most exciting and rewarding interactions in Shenzhen have been with the maker entrepreneurs in Africa who are in the best positions to take advantages of this new open world where technologies and mean of production are openly accessible to deliver actual impacts and build a real business.
While Shenzhen is an interesting place to look at, it’s the disruptive innovations that enabled by the Shenzhen open ecosystem everywhere around the world that are worth learning.
Traditionally, a business does not like to share its secret to success. What is your answer to this as someone who has Open Source embedded in your way of thinking?
David Li: We are heading toward a world of abundance driven by technologies innovations. Places like Shenzhen are commaditizing these innovations and enable new entrepreneurs and companies to leverage the commoditized technologies to disrupt the existing markets.
There are many examples of these but none more drastic than the mobile phone industry. In 2007, Forbes featured Nokia on the cover titled „One Billion Customers: Can Anyone Catch The Cell Phone King?“ It was caught alright 6 years later by Microsoft for merely $7.2 Billion for mobile phone division. During the same period, the Nokia global market share of mobile phone went from 51% in 2007 to 3.5% in 2013. iPhone has just started in 2013 with around 50 millions on shipment in 2013. While impressive, iPhone was barely 4% of the global 1.3 billion mobile phone annual shipment. At the same time, feature phones from Shenzhen was 300 millions units in 2012 and account for 25% of the global market share. Nokia lost its market not to iPhone but to the Shanzhai phones that shaped and colored itself into all regions and niches ignored by Nokia and other major cell phone brands and thrive in them. To follow up, the same ecosystem has also changed the smart phone market within 10 years of iPhone introduction.
Ignoring the forces of open source and open ecosystem have been hard for large multiple national corporations such as Microsoft and Nokia. And as the information technologies are going beyond just PC and mobile phone and into everything as Internet of Things. Garnet predicted by 2020, there will be 25 billion connected devices from 10 billions today and half of them will be coming from new companies started in these few years.
Wollen Sie erfahren, was sich auch Ihr Unternehmen vom Shenzen sudu abschauen kann? Diskutieren Sie mit David Li und den anderen exklusiven Sprechern bei der C-SUITE am 28. und 29. Juni in Berlin.