矽谷可以向首爾學到什麽

2015/06/11 瀏覽次數:100 收藏
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  6月11日口譯文章:科技立異 矽谷可以向首爾學到甚麽

  麥克·金(Mike Kim)像美國灣區的大多半年青人同樣,從小就信任矽谷打造著科技的將來。金在皮德蒙專長大,那是奧克蘭的一個充裕的郊區。Facebook突起時,金正在上大學。他驚異地看著科技始創公司變更著他四周的天下。2006年卒業後,他在科技行業找到了事情,前後效率於Zynga、Monster.com和領英(LinkedIn)。

  厥後,就在五個月前,他接收了屋瓦兄弟(Woowa Borthers)的事情機遇。這是韓國的一家公司,運營著一家食物遞送始創公司,叫做Baedal Minjok。事情自己異常好,並且在首爾生存的閱歷讓他大開眼界。

  “在舊金山的時刻,咱們都把舊金山叫做天下電話之都,”他說。“然則我基本想不到韓國(比舊金山)先輩了三、四年。”在美國,金說,公園有了無線收集人們都要額手相慶。但在首爾,即就是乘地鐵左右班的人都能在電話上播放流媒體片子,哪怕是在地下很深之處。“我回到美國,就似乎回到了中世紀,”他說。“咱們還沒成長到那種水平。”

  只管矽谷還是最大也是最長期的科技立異中間,不外天下上的很多都會正在奮起直追:特拉維夫、柏林、班加羅爾。但在某種意義上,韓國都城首爾是與矽谷最靠近的敵手。美國投資者開端意想到這一點,危害投資也向西活動,跨過了寧靖洋。美國一家名叫創業500(500 Startups)的初期風投公司比來將一項名為“泡菜500”(500 Kimchi)的小基金分別了出來,專門聚焦韓國。客歲秋日,高盛團體引領了一輪投資,投向屋瓦兄弟及其遞送辦事。蒲月,谷歌公司在首爾開放了一個辦公園區。這是谷歌在亞洲的第一個辦公園區。辦公所在就處於新潮的江南區——沒錯,便是《江南Style》裏的誰人江南——這一地域已集合了一批電話始創企業,其數目日趨增加,那邊另有一些科技孵化公司對他們舉行指點。

  泡菜500的謀劃人蒂姆·蔡(Tim Chae)說,美國投資者已開端把首爾看成某種水晶球,經由過程它可以看到,矽谷最巨大的妄想——一個無鈔、無車、統統包羅萬象的社會——已實現了。險些全部的首爾住民都用智妙手機,許多如今才方才在美國風行起來的辦事,在韓國早已屢見不鮮。

  這在很大水平是因為20年來偉大的大眾投資。首爾已被免費的無線收集籠罩,且網速為天下最快,為美國均勻網速的兩倍。早在1995年,當局就展開了一項十年籌劃來扶植國度的寬帶基本舉措措施,而且經由過程一系列大眾項目來教韓國人若何應用這些舉措措施。韓國也放寬了對辦事供給商的管束,以確保花費者有多種選取,這與少數幾家有線與電信巨子統治下的美國構成光鮮比較。在韓國,這類良性競爭使得收集接入本錢堅持在較低程度。

  為了堅持韓國的領先位置,韓國教導科學技巧部(Science Ministry)比來宣告了一項投資15億美元(約合93億元國民幣)的項目,對韓國的挪動基本舉措措施舉行進級。當局估計,到2020年,網速將是如今的1000倍——快到你可以在約莫一秒鐘的時光裏下載一部片子長片。在一樣的時光段裏,美國聯邦通訊委員會(Federal Communications Commission)的願望是給大部門家庭裝上速率最少為每秒100MB的寬帶收集,這個速率大抵是韓國的目的的六非常之一。

  韓國在一些方面大概異常新潮,但從計劃的角度來看,韓國許多最受迎接的收集辦事看起來很是過期,像是回到了上世紀90年月。大部門挪動運用和網頁上塞滿了混亂的信息框、堆砌的題目和閃耀著湧現的一行行筆墨。

  這一點無疑可以在韓國93%的智妙手機都安置了的即時通信運用KakaoTalk上看到。KakaoTalk是韓國初期的收集前驅金凡秀(Beom-su Kim)於2010年開辟出來的。金凡秀創立了一個用戶浩瀚的在線遊戲流派Hangame。他試圖將該流派推向美國,不不對敗了,其時恰逢第一代iPhone問世。金凡秀買了幾部iPhone,並開端為它們開辟運用。這比iPhone上岸韓國早了足足兩年。KakaoTalk便是他的首批作品之一。

  這款運用很快在韓國用戶中獲得遍及,被當做了短信的免費替換品。它的勝利部門是由於,KakaoTalk的感化有點像在智妙手機內自成一體的互聯網:用戶任什麽時候候都不消封閉這款運用即可以檢察消息、接洽同夥、點餐和玩遊戲。在美國人看來,它的計劃弗成理喻,讓人認為像是走進了一座能把人逼瘋的遊樂宮。頁面通體閃耀著霓虹燈,另有瞪著眼的卡通動物。

  比擬之下,美國的挪動運用計劃有一種極簡崇敬。矽谷在這方面自視咀嚼卓絕,但這類審美部門必定水平上是某種缺點致使的:美國人已學會剔除運用中會消費大批帶寬的計劃,由於這些會增長載入時光。韓國計劃師們因為沒有相似的寬帶限定,可以在運用中隨意率性添置各式各樣的信息和小部件。屏幕空間也不是題目,由於韓國人愛好大屏電話。介於電話寧靜板電腦之間的平板電話,在美國常被當做笑料,在韓國倒是熱銷多年。

  寧靖洋兩岸寬帶速率差距之大,平日讓韓國軟件開辟者不能不刪除軟件的部門功效能力推向美國發賣。文件分享辦事運用Sunshine比來剛在舊金山開設分部,其履行總裁妮可·金(Nicole Kim)說,公司的辦事必需要斟酌到美國較低的寬帶速率。“咱們簡化了Sunshine,由於美國的網速比韓國、香港低了很多,”她說。她稱她的工程師是以要從新寫法式用於分享較小的文件,好比計劃文件和貿易文件。而在亞洲,人們用Sunshine分享對寬帶請求較高的文件,好比音樂和視頻。

  縱然韓國公司不面對技巧困難,計劃方面的邊界也會為吸引美國客戶增長艱苦。2014年金東陽(Doyon Kim)賣力將韓國挪動訊息運用Band打入矽谷。Band支撐同夥談天、籌劃出行、分享視頻、分攤賬單,乃至還可以提議非正式投票評論辯論就餐所在。金東陽說,恰是Band的多功效性應用戶覺得迷惑,他們不習氣在一個運用裏處置這麽多事件。

  “作為方才上岸美國的產物,產物自己在市場上必需有一個矚目標賣點,”他說。“Band有太多特點功效,人們用它時沒法完整控制這個產物。”這個運用吞沒在了好比GroupMe、Venmo、Tilt、Dropbox如許比擬勝利的產物中,而Band所供給的辦事恰是這些專註於某一項功效的產物的聚集。Band在韓國吸引了3000萬用戶,但在美國“險些沒多大消息”。

  矽谷對單一功效運用的執著,最荒謬的例證是客歲炎天風行的運用軟件Yo。這個軟件只許可用戶發一種信息——“Yo”,這類傻乎乎的可愛,讓它一晚上間引發偉大驚動。固然它的適用代價,婉轉地說,極端有限,但卻很快吸引到150萬美元投資,身價據估量更是這個數字的十倍。它也催生了其他一系列超等簡略的運用,個中包含分享用戶地點所在的“Lo”和主動關照同夥你會比商定時光遲到一點的“1minLate”。Yo的勝利很大水平上揭露了矽谷的理念:嘴上說著“轉變天下”,但現實上別致每每賽過適用。

  單一功效運用海潮中,還湧現了“Ubers for X”類運用,這種運用和供給汽車辦事的Uber同樣,用戶只需按一下按鈕,就可以得到它們供給的實地辦事。一個名叫Product Hunt的網站枚舉出了數十種這種運用辦事,整體來看使人線人一新,個中包含Shortcut(供給剃頭辦事的Uber),Minibar(供給酒水的Uber),Doughbies On-demand (供給新穎巧克力碎餅幹的Uber), JetMe (供給私家飛機的Uber),Eaze(供給大麻的Uber),等等。這些運用都沒有完全轉變美國人的生存方法,多是由於全部這些辦事的幻想客戶——富有,愛好零食和大麻——都已在矽谷事情了。

  在韓國,為寬大用戶供給方便的運用有更好的市場機會。環球風投公司古德沃特本錢(Goodwater Capital)在韓國舉行了大批投資,其開創人埃裏克·金(Eric Kim)表現,韓國生齒密度高且相對於同質,是以韓國事磨練新挪動辦事的幻想之地。韓國約莫有5000萬生齒,個中五分之一棲身在首爾。一些在美國會受制於物流安排艱苦的辦事,在韓國的首均可以輕松實現範圍化。

  埃裏克·金還以Coupang公司為例,這家方才突起的電子商務公司供給當日送貨辦事,偶然還供給一小時內送貨的辦事,送貨色品諸如生鮮食物和紙尿片。(埃裏克是該公司董事。)韓國的送貨文化根深蒂固,這對Coupang非常有益,人們習氣了約快遞員在家鄰近的地鐵站簽收他們的幹洗衣物,偶然另有晚飯。相較之下,大多半的美國還不順應在亞馬遜(Amazon)購置圖書和禮品之外的器械。

  在加利福尼亞的巨子眼前,韓國那些最大的始創公司仍然是相形見絀。然則矽谷熱中於進修韓國公司的謀劃方法,固然個中的許多謀劃方法發明了可觀的利潤——很多申明煊赫的始創公司尚做不到這一點。

  若何讓美國人真的在電話上付費,這是矽谷須要向韓國粹習的一件事。韓國人許多年前就已開端在電話上舉行主要的平常生意業務,比方用智妙手機付出賬單和購物。韓國人還愛好購置假造商品,這為數碼互動增加了朝氣。好比說,價錢在1至2美元的假造臉色包,可以貼在網上和挪動談天室。連我(Line)和Kakao Talk位居韓國最大的挪動談天運用之列,收入在數億美元的級別,個中只有一部門來自於告白。別的的來自數字貼紙和音樂和遊戲的發賣。

  矽谷大概還要學會若何逢迎更多國度的客人需求。大部門的韓國公司在創建之初便具有了國際腦筋,很清晰本身存在的範圍性:韓國的市場異常的小,是以創業者們不能不斟酌若何順應外洋的貿易情況。

  但是,假如沒有一個更便宜、更優良的挪動收集,即就是美國創業者推出的絕佳產物也會跟不上時期。大概矽谷的立異人士應當向韓國粹習的最主要的履歷之一就是,若何給人們的平常生存帶去激烈的變更,他們須要說服本身的國度舉行基本舉措措施投資,只有如許咱們才可以或許真正應用到他們想要賣給咱們的辦事。

  【參考譯文】

  Like most young people in the Bay Area, Mike Kim grew up believing that the future of technology was being forged in Silicon Valley. Raised in Piedmont, an affluent suburb of Oakland, Kim was in college during the rise of Facebook, and he watched in amazement as tech start-ups transformed the world around him. After graduating in 2006, he found work in the industry, at Zynga, Monster.com and LinkedIn.

  Then, five months ago, he accepted an offer to work for Woowa Brothers, a South Korean company that runs a food-delivery start-up called Baedal Minjok. The job was great — but living in Seoul was nothing less than a revelation.

  “When I was in S.F., we called it the mobile capital of the world,” he said. “But I was blown away because Korea is three or four years ahead.” Back home, Kim said, people celebrate when a public park gets Wi-Fi. But in Seoul, even subway straphangers can stream movies on their phones, deep beneath the ground. “When I go back to the U.S., it feels like the Dark Ages,” he said. “It’s just not there yet.”

  While Silicon Valley is the largest and most enduring locus of tech innovation, a number of cities around the planet are nipping at its heels: Tel Aviv, Berlin, Bangalore. But Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is in a sense the Valley’s closest rival. American investors are beginning to catch on, and venture capital is starting to flow west, across the Pacific. An early-stage American venture firm called 500 Startups recently spun off a small fund called 500 Kimchi, which focuses exclusively on South Korea. Last fall, Goldman Sachs led a round of investment in Woowa Brothers and its delivery service. In May, Google opened a campus in Seoul, its first in Asia. The office is in the trendy district of Gangnam — yes, that Gangnam — which is already home to a growing cluster of mobile start-ups and a handful of technology incubators to mentor them.

  Tim Chae, who runs 500 Kimchi, said that American investors have begun to think of Seoul as a sort of crystal ball. In it, they can glimpse a future where the most ambitious dreams of Silicon Valley — a cashless, carless, everything-on-demand society — have already been realized. Nearly all of Seoul’s residents use smartphones, and many of the services just now gaining in popularity in the United States have been commonplace in South Korea for years.

  Much of this was made possible by two decades of enormous public investment. Seoul is blanketed with free Wi-Fi that offers the world’s fastest Internet speeds — twice as fast as the average American’s. Back in 1995, the government began a 10-year plan to build out the country’s broadband infrastructure and, through a series of public programs, to teach Koreans what they could do with it. South Korea also eased regulations on service providers to ensure that consumers would have a multitude of choices — in marked contrast to America, where a handful of cable and telecommunications monopolies dominate the market. Such healthy competition in Korea keeps the cost of access low.

  To maintain South Korea’s lead, the country’s Science Ministry recently announced a $1.5 billion initiative to upgrade Korea’s mobile infrastructure. By 2020, the government predicts, it will be 1,000 times faster — so fast you could download a feature-length movie in approximately one second. In the same time frame, the Federal Communications Commission hopes to wire most American homes with broadband Internet with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, or roughly one-sixtieth of South Korea’s goal.

  South Korea may be futuristic in some regards, but from a design perspective, many of the country’s most popular web services look outmoded, like throwbacks to the ’90s. Most mobile apps and web pages are crammed with chaotic boxes of information, stacked headlines and flashing lines of text.

  This is certainly true of KakaoTalk, a messaging app that is installed on 93 percent of Korea’s smartphones. KakaoTalk was developed in 2010 by Beom-su Kim, an early web pioneer in Korea who built a popular online gaming portal called Hangame. A failed effort to take Hangame to the United States happened to coincide with the release of the first iPhone. Beom-su Kim bought several and began developing apps for them, a full two years before the device would arrive in South Korea. KakaoTalk was one of his first creations.

  The app was quickly adopted by Korean users as a free alternative to text messaging. Part of its success is due to the fact that KakaoTalk functions like its own version of the Internet within a smartphone: Users don’t have to close the app, ever, to check the news, talk to friends, order dinner or play games. To an American, the app’s design is insane, like stepping into a demented fun house. Pages are drenched in neon and populated with googly-eyed cartoon animals.

  By contrast, American mobile design is fetishistically minimalist. Silicon Valley applauds itself for good taste in this regard, but this aesthetic has sprung up partly in response to a deficiency: Americans have learned to strip out bandwidth-guzzling elements because they slow down loading times. Korean designers, lacking such bandwidth restraints, can stuff their apps full of all the information and widgets they like. On-screen real estate isn’t an issue, either, because Koreans prefer massive phones. While the “phablet” — the missing link between a phone and a tablet — is popular as a punch line in the United States, it’s been in high demand in South Korea for years.

  This trans-Pacific gap in bandwidth is so pronounced that Korean developers often have to strip down their software if they want to take it stateside. Nicole Kim, chief executive of a file-sharing service called Sunshine, which recently opened an office in San Francisco, said the service had to be adapted to inferior American broadband. “We made Sunshine simpler because the speeds are quite lower than the Korean and Hong Kong networks,” she said. She says her engineers recoded the app to allow for the sharing of smaller items, like design files and business documents. In Asia, people use Sunshine for more bandwidth-intensive files, like music and videos.

  Even when Korean firms don’t encounter technological issues, the design gulch can confound their attempts to lure American customers. In 2014, Doyon Kim was tasked with taking Band, a South Korean mobile-messaging app, to Silicon Valley. Band lets friends chat, plan outings, share video files, split bills and even conduct informal polls about where to go to dinner. Doyon Kim says that the sheer number of Band’s functions confused users who were not accustomed to performing all of those tasks within a single app.

  “As a newcomer in the United States, products have to have one strong feature to market,” he said. “Band had so many features and functionalities, that when people saw the product, they didn’t really get it.” The app got lost in the mix of services like GroupMe, Venmo, Tilt and Dropbox — well-established stand-alone products that let people perform the individual functions that Band offered. Despite attracting 30 million users in South Korea, in the United States, “It barely made a blip.”

  Silicon Valley’s single-use obsession found its most absurd expression last summer in the infamous rise of an app called Yo. Yo allows users to send messages saying one thing only — “Yo.” — and thanks to its charming idiocy, it became an overnight sensation. It quickly raised $1.5 million and was valued at as much as 10 times that, despite having, to put it mildly, extremely limited utility. Still, it spawned a series of other hypersimple applications, including “Lo,” which lets you share your location, and “1minLate,” which automatically alerts your friends when you’re running late. The success of Yo revealed a lot about Silicon Valley ideology: For all the changing-the-world talk, novelty frequently outweighs functionality.

  Among the wave of single-use apps is a category that has come to be called “Ubers for X” — firms that, as Uber does with cars, promise the delivery of a service in physical space at the tap of a button. A site called Product Hunt lists dozens of them, and, as a group, they’re enlightening. There’s Shortcut (Uber for haircuts), Minibar (Uber for alcohol), Doughbies On-Demand (Uber for fresh chocolate-chip cookies), JetMe (Uber for private jets), Eaze (Uber for marijuana) and many more. None of these has radically altered the way Americans live, perhaps because the ideal customer of all these services — wealthy, likes snacks, smokes pot — probably already works in Silicon Valley.

  In Korea, apps that depend on widespread demand for convenience stand a much better chance. Eric Kim, a founder of Goodwater Capital, a global venture firm that invests heavily in South Korea, said that the country’s high population density and relative homogeneity makes it ideal for testing out new mobile services. There are about 50 million people in South Korea, and one in five of them lives in Seoul. Services that would be logistically difficult to deploy in much of the United States scale easily in the capital.

  Eric Kim offered the example of Coupang, a rising e-commerce company that offers same-day delivery, and sometimes same-hour delivery, for things like groceries and diapers. (He is on the company’s board.) It helps that delivery culture is so deeply established in Seoul, where people are accustomed to having couriers meet them at the subway station near their homes to deliver their dry cleaning and, occasionally, their dinner. Meanwhile, most Americans are still adjusting to using Amazon for more than books and gifts.

  South Korea’s biggest start-ups are still dwarfed by the behemoths of California. But the Valley is keen to learn from their businesses, many of which turn healthy profits — something that many celebrated start-ups don’t do.

  One thing Silicon Valley hopes to learn is how to get Americans to actually pay for things on their phones. For years now, Koreans have carried out important daily transactions, like paying bills and shopping, on their smartphones. They’re also more inclined to pay for virtual accouterments that liven up digital interactions: for example, virtual stickers that, for $1 to $2 per pack, can be pasted into online and mobile chats. Line and KakaoTalk are among the largest mobile chatting apps in South Korea, with revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and only a portion of their income is derived from advertising. The rest comes from selling those digital stickers, as well as music and games.

  Silicon Valley might also learn how to cater to more customers in more countries around the world. Most Korean companies have been internationally minded since their inception, aware of their own limitations: South Korea is such a small market that entrepreneurs are forced to consider how they might adapt to business abroad.

  But without a more affordable, better mobile web, even the best new offerings from American entrepreneurs will be stuck in the past. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons Silicon Valley’s innovators should learn from South Korea is that to radically change how everyday people live their lives, they’ll need to convince their nation to invest in infrastructure, so that we can actually use the services they want to sell us.