Mobile-phone usage in Asia Pacific, beetroot in Greenland and "postie bikes" in Melbourne.
Next to a large greenhouse overlooking the Arctic waters of a fjord near the town of Qaqortoq, Tupaarnaq Bjerge is washing giant red beetroots, preparing them to sell to supermarkets and local shops. Climate change has brought a longer growing season and higher temperatures to this extreme corner of the world, making it possible to grow a greater variety of different crops.
The farm at Upernaviarsuk, the Greenland government’s agricultural research and training station in the south of the country, consists of different outdoor zones, hotbeds and two large greenhouses next to a building where a handful of students and the four-strong staff stay and work during the summer months. “These new local products send a message to Greenlanders to buy healthy and fresh local products instead of imports,” says one of the gardeners, Efa Poulsen.
For over 30 years the Australian mail service has relied on bright red Honda ct110 motorcycles to make deliveries. The ubiquity of these “postie bikes” has turned them into a national symbol.
But while Australia Post is phasing them out, Melbourne-based entrepreneur Jim Clark (pictured) is keeping the iconic model on the road. Set up in 2012, Champion Abbotsford specialises in converting decommissioned postie bikes into inner-city commuter vehicles. “They are an ugly duckling in their original guise,” says Clark. “But once you strip a lot of stuff off you find that it is very well designed.”
Nearly 2.5 billion of the world’s 4.3 billion mobile-phone users are based in Asia Pacific. By 2015 the region is predicted to account for as much as 40 per cent of global mobile-data traffic.
Yet from India to Indonesia smartphones are unaffordable for many. In these developing countries where smartphone take-up remains low, manufacturers are targeting tech-thirsty consumers with lower-cost offerings.
Although it may be a name little known outside China, newcomer Xiaomi is taking market share with its more affordably priced devices. An aggressive plan to break out of its home market has been followed this year with launches in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, with sights set on Brazil and Russia. Xiaomi is not alone. In India, home-grown brands Micromax, Spice and Karbonn teamed with Google to launch Android One models, while in the Philippines Cherry Mobile offers models priced as low as php1,499 (€25).
The business model behind these low-cost smartphones is straightforward. “Margins on high-end smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone are generally in excess of 40 per cent,” says Hong Kong-based Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral. “These new vendors are playing the volume game.”
Xiaomi Founded just four years ago by Chinese businessman Lei Jun, the company is now the world’s fastest-growing smartphone maker.
Motorola Following its acquisition by Lenovo earlier in the year, Motorola is making a somewhat unexpected comeback.
Coolpad The Shenzhen-based Coolpad is among China’s leading smartphone brands since being founded in 1993 as a maker of pagers and telecom equipment.
Founded last year, Hoard is an online platform that lets users securely stash and exchange physical objects using lockers placed around cities. We caught up with architect and company co-founder Arne Petersen to find out what’s in store for this budding Berlin-based start-up.
How does Hoard work?
You book storage spaces online or with the app and then deposit items using the code provided. You then share the code with a recipient who picks them up.
How many spots are there?
It’s available in six spots in Berlin. By the end of this year we’ll integrate 50 locations throughout the city. Next we’ll head to Paris and London.
Our first dedicated smart lockers will be installed next spring in a number of corner shops, cafés and self-service areas in banks.