Connected Consumers: Connected China: Connected
Piet Coeleweij, Senior VP and General Manager, Philips Consumer
From our humble roots to a global leader, today Philips is one
of the largest global electronics companies, with over 160,000
employees in over 60 countries. Here in China we're one of the
largest multi-nationals employing more than 20,000 employees.
This gives us a unique insight into how people experience the
realities of the digital age.
Our vision for the digital age is called the "Connected
Planet", and the strategy is based on a vision to deliver
the freedom to experience digital content from any location, regardless
of the source. How then do we ensure that this is built into future
Drawing on our heritage, our vision drives technological innovations
that are designed to improve our customers' quality of life. Rather
than just one niche, Philips excels at producing innovative products
in three interlocking domains: healthcare, lifestyle and technology.
Easy-to-use interfaces are as much an issue for CT scanners as
they are for operating the remote control for your television.
Our mission is simple and it's our business' backbone: give the
customer what she or he wants through products that are simple
to use and enhance their quality of life.
In China as never before we see a market changing rapidly, poised
to leap-frog traditional technologies. The Government is hugely
supportive of the embrace of technology whether in infrastructure,
talent development or encouraging the consumption of new goods
and services. Already, the pace of change is moving fast. According
to CNNIC's recent report, there are 103 million internet users
(53 million using broadband) which represents an 18% year on year
growth rate. The appetite for becoming connected consumers is
never more apparent.
So what's holding us back? It's certainly not consumers. Too
often our customers tell us that technology is a burden, rather
than an enabler. Our challenge is to integrate technology into
the modern lifestyle creating products that are smart on the inside,
yet simple on the outside. This idea is embraced in our brand
promise: Sense & Simplicity
In 2004, we commissioned research across the world that showed
that 30% of home-networking products were returned because customers
couldn't get them to work and 48% of people thinking of buying
a digital camera didn't because they thought they were too complicated.
The inherent complexity of technology need not be a trap. Simplicity
must be the face the consumer sees. Our experience and research
suggests the public is, in fact, tired. Tired of not being able
to record a program on TV (unless you have a teenager in the house!),
tired of spending hours reading an instruction manual, tired of
complexity for its own sakeĦ
Sense & Simplicity embraces three pillars that are designed
to inform and influence everything the company does - from business
processes to application creation.
?Designed around you, so that activities are driven by insights
into how the customer experiences the benefits of technology.
?Easy to experience, our belief that people should be able to
enjoy the benefits of technology without hassle or frustration.
Sophistication, yes. Difficult to use, no.
?Advanced, a product is only truly advanced when it improves
the lives of people. It's not about technology for its own sake.
Having the foundation we then look at the elements that will
shape the "Connected Planet" from a consumers point
of view. Three core elements come together:
- the content itself
- the distribution of that content
- the platform on which we experience it.
Today, we use a variety of platforms, depending on the type of
activity we are doing. For inter-personal communication, we tend
to use the telephone (landline and mobile) and PC-based email.
For information access, we use PC-based or TV-based text services.
For pure sit-back and relax experiences, we turn on the TV, listen
to music and playback favorite movies and recorded memories.
Convergence won't change the fact that certain experiences are
still predominantly enjoyed on certain platforms. But it will
mean that the same experiences can be made available on multiple
platforms too. Just think of the news alerts on your mobiles,
or the emails sent by PDA.
In-home networks, which are beginning to enter the mainstream,
will play a crucial role in this. They will route content stored
locally on devices such as personal video recorders, DVD players
or PCs. They will also route content accessed remotely via broadcast
networks or the Internet. This content will cross the network
to get to wherever it is needed, and in the right format for the
display device being used.
In this Connected Planet, people will have the freedom to enjoy
their favourite digital content and access services or information
where and when they want. They will be free of constraints in
time and place. And they can use the type of device they prefer
with no need to worry where the content or services are located.
The expectations for what digital technology should be able to
achieve are high. In fact, the first ten years of the 21st century
have been dubbed the "digital decade" by some - in anticipation
of the positive effects that digital technology will have on our
In China the journey towards digitatization is mapped out in
readiness for the Beijing Olympics. The Chinese Government has
declared that in 2008 digital broadcast signals carrying Olympics
programming will be made available to TV stations worldwide, and
officials have predicted a timeline of digital broadcasting throughout
China by 2010 and termination of analog broadcast by 2015. At
the same period China will also provide commercial 3G services
to more than 349 million subscribers . Digitization has already
enhanced everyday pastimes as listening to music and watching
TV. The arrival of broadband connections into the home has given
us a wealth of content from which to choose.
Philips is committed to liberating people from the existing constraints
of technology by building products that encourage them to explore
a new, richer world. Giving people choices that enrich their home
life - choices that are easy to analyze and, thus, select. Choice,
perhaps, they didn't even know they had.
Drawing on our key strengths of technology and innovation, Philips
has produced a series of products that are specifically designed
around the customer, easy to use and advanced such as Philips
award-winning Ambilight technology.
Applied in a number of Philips FlatTV LCD and plasma TV sets,
Ambilight changes the viewing experience by producing ambient
light to compliment the image onscreen by projecting background
lighting from the rear of the TV set onto the wall behind the
Ambilight was developed following detailed consumer analysis
into how people watch television at home. Consumer testing proved
to be extremely positive with viewers reporting overwhelmingly
that lighting around the TV set contributes to picture quality
and, most importantly, an enhanced viewing experience.
And just think of a DVD recorder that you don't need your teenage
son at home! A DVD recorder that's easy to operate and records
your favorite programs; imagine recording any TV program on impulse
at the touch of a button or pausing live TV when the phone rings
- what a difference for the World Cup! The Philips DVDR-HDD demonstrates
how traditionally strong technologies such as DVD can be combined
into one easy-to-use package.
Choice is also apparent in our mobile phones; PHILIPS 968 enables
consumers to shoot, and share video. It is a great multimedia
phone with camcorder and 1.3 Megapixel still camera plus TV Link
to view your A/V footage and photos. Thanks to the touch screen,
consumers can tag photos with fun messages and easily enter SMSs
with hand-writing recognition technology.
For the busy professional or fast-paced urbanite there's the
Philips Xenium 9@9e, the latest flagship phone in the range. Sharing
the extremely long battery life of its predecessors, this latest
Xenium phone will appeal to people who will appreciate its reliability,
design, record-breaking seven hours of talk time, and ability
to provide up to four weeks of standby power together with multimedia
functions such as the 1.3 Megal-pixel built-in camera.
During 2006 a variety of product lines will be introduced to
bring the vision of the connected consumer that much closer, allowing
us to interconnect all CE appliances in the home from wireless
hubs, and an audio systems that allows multiple choices of music
to played around the house from just one system.
And what can Government do to further support further innovation?
The Chinese Government is very much behind the progress and opportunity
presented by new technology. But there are of course challenges
- how to produce quicker and clearer standards in line with global
developments that allow content and technology to work seamlessly?
How to create an overarching platform on which multiple ministries
may align? Perhaps most importantly is the creativity and innovation
that comes from creating win-win partnerships across Government,
industry and consumers to ensure that the high expectations and
anticipation are delivered in a way that most benefits the consumer
living in the Connected Planet.
(October 12, 2005)