In most parts of Asia, when we greet each other, we don’t say, “How are you?” We ask, “Have you eaten yet?”
It shows the importance of food in our culture. Even as we are eating, we are discussing the next meal.
And everything revolves around food – weddings, funerals and temple ceremonies. We eat when we are happy, we eat when we are sad and we eat when we hope to be happy.
Now a new obsession has taken over in the region: gadgets.
Ever since the iPad hit Asian shores this month, the greeting has changed to: “Have you got your iPad yet?”
I was at a private sale of jewellery and watches last week at the Singapore Recreation Club – you can’t get more status-conscious than that, my friends – when I whipped out my iPad.
- “Wow, so sexy.”
- “Do they make Louis Vuitton covers for it?”
- “Are you getting the iPhone 4? I want mine with bling-bling.”
- “It’s so light. Can it replace my laptop? So I can carry it in my handbag?”
Hate to say it – but my accessory attracted more attention than the Chopard watches and Cartier jewellery on display. And even the food was ignored for a while.
In Singapore, queues formed early at Apple stores on the day of the launch. A week after the launch, I was at my telco provider to get my micro SIM card and already, there was a queue of people wanting exactly the same thing.
It’s no surprise really that Asians are mad about our gadgets. We make them here, we might as well consume them here.
I read that the huge demand for the iPad and other devices is causing problems for a company in Taichung, Taiwan, maker high-tech components.
“The strong demand exceeds our expectations,” says an official from touchscreen maker, Wintek. “Our clients keep pushing us to increase supplies.”
The numbers tell the story. Apple is expecting to sell 8.13 million iPad units worldwide by the end of this year with Asia expected to account for a high percentage of sales. Its outlet in Shanghai opened earlier this month.
According to Apple, Mac sales in Asia Pacific have grown year on year by 73%.
Chief operating officer Tim Cook, announcing Apple’s third quarter results this month, said growth in China was 144%, Korea 184% and in Hong Kong, it doubled.
More gadgets also mean more time being spent online. The region is already home to nearly half of the world’s online population and according to ComScore, the average Internet user in Asia Pacific spends nearly 17 hours a month online.
And increasingly, in less developed markets, the first exposure to the web is not through the laptop anymore but through smartphones.
So next time when you visit me in Singapore, don’t be surprised if I ask you first to show off your gadgets and after that, of course, I will treat you to the best meal ever.
Just be careful though, chilli crabs can get a bit messy and you wouldn’t want it on your iPad.