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Monday, April 9, 2012

HanZpad For Every Student



HanZpad For Every Student

For more than seven years, the man who was once Singapore's tech poster boy became all but invisible, there was only silence and no media interviews from Mr Sim Wong Hoo, the poly graduate who co-founded Creative Technology in 1981 and became the youngest billionaire here within two heady decades.

His company became Singapore's first to list on New York's high-tech Nasdaq exchange and its share price hit a high of $64 on March 28, 2000. Then Creative's fortunes changed, the stock price slid and in a cost-cutting measure, it delisted from Nasdaq. Creative stayed listed in Singapore, but its share price dropped to below $2.50 last year, its lowest ever.

Suddenly last September, Mr Sim resurfaced at a press conference in Singapore. And he appeared again in February, in Beijing.

There's a new energy that gives the feel that the Sim Wong Hoo of old is back in action and excited about something new.

It is his HanZpad, the tablet computer he believes is a winner, given the strategy he's worked out with two dozen partners and his designs on the China market.

Gone were the blue buttoned-down Oxford shirt and black trousers that Mr Sim Wong Hoo once wore like a uniform.

Instead, it was a bright red adidas Sundown Marathon T-shirt paired with blue trousers, a beige cloth cap and bright white running shoes.

It was as if the co-founder and chief executive of Creative Technology had come fresh from the finish line.

Running, he explained later over the telephone, clears his mind and helps him to plan.
It was probably during his lOkm runs from his home in Dairy Farm Road to his office in Jurong's International Business Park that his tablet strategy took shape.

Energetic, ebullient and almost effervescent, Mr Sim, 57, is like the Creative boss of old as he explains why he believes his tablet computer, the HanZpad, will be the company's next tour de force.

In a rare interview, he says this is not just about producing a tablet computer. It's the whole deal.

Creative will control the HanZpad's hardware specifications, chips and content framework. But it will have no control over GoogIe's Android software, which will power the tablet.

This is unlike Apple, which controls the hardware and software for its tablet device, the iPad, and approves every app sold by its App Store.

What will set Creative apart from other tablet makers is that it will have Chinese-language content developed for the HanZpad, including textbooks for mathematics, science and other subjects.

"This will be our competitive edge against competitors such as Apple that do not have Chinese content. We'll also encourage other developers to build apps for the HanZpad," he says, his excitement palpable.

He reveals that he had spent $1 billion on research and development over the past 10 years to design new chips called ZMS, and other hardware technology to power the HanZpad.

"Yes, we spent a lot of money and maybe we got into the red," he says. "I ask for patience from our shareholders and investors. This is something that we needed to do so that we could move forward with our tablet strategy.

"We're coming round the corner now."

Another piece of the strategy is the HanZpad Alliance he set up last month in Beijing, which he chairs. It comprises about 20 companies from China and Taiwan that are manufacturers, component makers, marketers and distributors. Such a collaboration lets him leave the making, marketing and distribution of tablets to his partners.
Creative, he says, will focus on making the best ZMS chips.

"I can't be distracted by other projects. I will not have tablet production and business development issues to distract me. They will be handled by the Alliance members. I must be focused in order to succeed. This project is crucial to Creative's future."

He raised the curtain on part of the tablet's strategy in September last year, when he called a press conference at his Jurong office to unveil the ZMS chip and tablet reference designs.

It was his first press conference in Singapore in nearly seven years.
He said at the time: "The reference de sighs make it easy for any manufacturer to take advantage of the exploding tablet ma)."ket. But these companies don't have expertise in developing and producing tablets.

"This is where we come in. We have tested all the components that go inside a tablet, from chips to batteries and casing. From the menu of our tablet reference designs, they tick off and order what they need."

By February, he had consolidated his HanZpad Alliance initiative, and rolled out a more coherent tablet strategy.

This is how he sees it panning out: "If one company makes tens of thousands of HanZpads, it won't enjoy good prices from component makers. But if many small companies band together, they may make hundreds of thousands, and this will drive prices of electronic components down.

"Then they become more competitive and are in a better position to make the HanZpad more affordable to users."

Investors seem to like his strategy.

On Feb 15, when he announced the HanZpad Alliance in Beijing, Creative's share price leapt 71 per cent to close at $4.15, its highest since December 2010. Creative closed at $3.74 on April 5. Its all-time high was $64 on March 28, 2000.

Mr Bryan Ma of United States research company IDC has reservations about Mr Sim's grand plans. Creative's strategy is not new. Chip giant Intel, for example, has created reference designs for new product categories such as small-sized under-$I,OOO computers called netbooks, he says.

"The key thing is whether the Alliance members can make, market, sell and distribute HanZpads. Can they do what they say?" asks Mr Ma, who is IDC's associate vice-president, and leads the company's research in personal computing in the Asia-Pacific region.

He is more enthusiastic about Creative's focus on China, specifically its education market: "Most of the 5.8 million tablets sold last year were to consumers. This year, we forecast consumers will snap up 7.2 million tablets. So Creative's focus on the commercial market, which includes the Chinese education market, is good because there is less competition there."

But he cautions that leadership changes expected in China over the next few months could have an impact on where government budgets are spent.

In the years when Mr Sim all but became a recluse, most of the media activities were handled by Mr Craig McHugh, then the president of Creative's US subsidiary. Mr McHugh left the company last year.

The 31-year-old company, which has about 3,000 employees, has continued to expand its range of personal digital entertainment products such as portable and wireless speakers and MP3 players. It continues to develop the Sound Blaster processors, which are used in computers and game consoles such as the PS3.

Mr Sim's priority now is the HanZpad's scheduled debut late flex-t month. Creative itself is manufacturing the first few thousand units, to demonstrate to its Alliance members that the tablet will work according to its specifications.

The first run of HanZpads will be the only ones that will carry the Creative brand name. Mr Sim would not be drawn on the precise numbers.

Creative will give samples to Alliance members, as well as to schools in China taking part in a Creative-led pilot project on e-Iearning with tablets.

To help publishers translate physical books to e-copies, he says, he has developed a technology that can handle the conversion of one book a week, and for one-tenth of what it would usually cost a publisher to get it done himself.

His personal fascination with Chinese started when his older sister Siew Bee, a Chinese language teacher, made him practise writing in Chinese.

"As my brothers and I practised, we also learnt more words. By the time I was 12, I had a vocabulary of 2,000 words, which was very good for my age group.

"In secondary school, I topped my class in Chinese every year although I was educated in English. By the time I left, I could attend.the late playwright's Kuo Pao Kun's lectures on Chinese literature. I could even take notes in Chinese," he recalls.

His personal passion, though, is the Chinese handwriting recognition software that comes with the HanZpad. He had his engineers tweak the software until it could accurately respond to different styles of writing.

Schoolchildren write in different styles, he explains. Some write Chinese characters in a flowing cursive-like style. Whatever the style, the software must be able to recognise the characters from the Chinese character database that comes with each HanZpad.

"Accuracy is very important because school kids will be practising their Chinese handwriting on the HanZpad," says Mr, Sim, who has submitted a patent for this feature.

Throughout the interview, he emphasises that he is not concerned about competing with Apple, which already has about 70 per cent of the Chinese tablet market.

The HanZpad, he says, has a more noble strategy.

"I'm not out to make the next million dollars. My needs are simple. The HanZpad is a way of saving the planet and saving trees while making education available to all Chinese school kids, even in the most remote areas of the country.

"My dream is that every single Chinese student will be able to use a HanZpad for his education."

via Straits Times

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65 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sold my shares sometime back as someone here predicted it will fall to one dollar and eventually 0. Should I buy them back now?

Jimmy Loh said...

creative share just edged up because of this article

Anonymous said...

..."I ask for patience from our shareholders and investors"....
....
.....
........"I'm not out to make the next million dollars. My needs are simple".

Anonymous said...

I am still a fail. I ran out of ideas on how to whack creative.

Jimmy Loh said...

sounds like a nice dream........"I'm not out to make the next million dollars. My needs are simple".
but many investors are out to make money
they will not be happy to see this

Anonymous said...

Is there any qq software built-in? i think it is veri important. i know someone here always qq, every now and then qq qq to whack.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ziilabs.com/products/software/mandelmark.php
many tablets manufacturers lung lung have to consider zms-40 since nvidia tegra3 fails badly in terms of performance and battery life. qualcomm staying good but omap got delay.

Anonymous said...

Qualcomm more for phone. Can the editor here download the benchmark and run it on Ziio 10 to show us how well zms-08 fare?

Anonymous said...

What a load of bullshit

Anonymous said...

I qq ag

Anonymous said...

People purchase tablets as it provides ease of usage and it's useful. If Creative understand that, they won't just depend on their Chinese software. They can sell to the world too. They still can't get it right. They lose to themselves. They think people either are stupid or they are stupid. Not just performance, they need to compare themselves with others like iPad. iPad is more than a hardware, more than an OS, more than one software. Apple changed that game. Creative should realise it.

Jimmy Loh said...

I don't think you can compare like that. the ziio is running on zms8 which is an older chip. The performance wouldn't be better

Jimmy Loh said...

Even Koreans like Samsung and lg can do better, why not Singaporean ? :)

Anonymous said...

we want you to run and tell us how much faster is zms-40 vs your zms-08.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha another fail attempt to jack up share price. I predict share price will fall swiftly. Ha ha ha

Jimmy Loh said...

Don't have any review unit to do the benchmark for you guys

Anonymous said...

what is lung lung?

China, here I come said...

"I'm not out to make the next million dollars. My needs are simple".

"My dream is that every single Chinese student will be able to use a HanZpad for his education."


200 million students in China.

What Mr Sim means is his target is the next billion dollars. 10, 20 billions... Million dollars is not in his eyes... Got it?

Jimmy Loh said...

Yea!

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha yet another fail dream. stock prices falling and will fall further ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

"Lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." That's what Sim tries to do but he failed 8.5 out of 10 which 1 correct is soundblaster and 0.5 correct is going to be hanzpad.

Anonymous said...

Apple can easily put billions to develop all major language platform. Fail. Stock prices sliding ha ha ha

Jimmy Loh said...

apple share falling, creative share gaining?

Anonymous said...

Apple shares big surge, creative shares slide slide slide hahaha

Anonymous said...

stop comparing a rotten orange with apple... stop stop stop!

Anonymous said...

why do people keep bashing creative? what did they do? just confused a little bit.

Anonymous said...

heard only one pathetic and desparate person bashing creative. heard he lost his job in creative. heard he bought the shares at very high prices. heard he got burnt. heard he always wanted to bash to relieve stress. heard when creative turn around he will be dispatched.

Anonymous said...

oh... i saw all of the anonymous comments and thought they were different people. thanks

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha as predicted creative share price has fallen swiftly. i predict massive losses for this coming report and even swifter price drop ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha 1 may no news of hanzpad. coordination fail. another delay to june to buy time likely. delay delay delay

Anonymous said...

They are too slow. Forget about Creative. Look at Samsung.

that one guy said...

um anyone ever here about valve time? maybe you should wait for more than 12 hrs into the month...

Anonymous said...

Is hanzpad dead or delayed?

Anonymous said...

its times like this i wish ZiiLabs wasn't owned by creative. i feel like they could do so much more without them for some reason.

Anonymous said...

meh

Anonymous said...

Creative shouldn't owe any of those great companies. All dead terribly and horribly in Creative hands. All no good endings.

Anonymous said...

haha i think the whacker has no good endings for bad heart

Anonymous said...

does parent whack their child means bad heart? does protest means on the wrong side...?
Zii is going to be 0.5 correct. The other 0.5 requires them to actualize and perfect this. But we all know Creative. They can do 360 degree turn and the product can suddenly die out. there's no belief and passion in this company to do things well. Only money is what they think. To have 0.5, only themselves can do it. No others could.

Anonymous said...

Haha qq please go and do more research. Don't even know what is going on and just whack and qq qq qq and claim to be parent ha ha ha Fail

Anonymous said...

yes. I am a fail. I apologize for all my reckless actions here.

3.72 said...

a true fan site definitely will not allow anonymous posting. somebody here trolling really hard to increase site hits .

Anonymous said...

Who will be interested in site hits?

Liquo The Wolf said...

to be clear, didnt mean to be trolling with the ziilabs thing. i was following them before i knew they were owned by creative. from what i saw on their old site, they had a lot of great things, just nobody to buy them, ziilabs, formerly 3Dlabs, has always set out to design the great new things but not actually sell them, their partnership with creative has done a lot for them starting with the use of the ZMS-07 in their tablets. i dont think Zii would be at the ZMS-40 if they hadnt partnered with creative.

Liquo The Wolf said...

"Originally founded in 1994 as 3DLABS, the company re-branded and joined with the Personal Digital Entertainment group of Creative Technology to form ZiiLABS in January 2009. ZiiLABs with over 800 R&D engineers today has invested US$1billion and 10,000 man years in media processing solutions" they couldnt have done so without creative. (quoting Ziilabs about page)

Anonymous said...

pms hahaha

Anonymous said...

wow the same person who talked about zms or pms is now having pms.

Anonymous said...

What is PMS?

Anonymous said...

hanzpad details?

Anonymous said...

When is it coming? Looks good, shld support local... But then, wait wait. No news... Going for Asus soon...

Anonymous said...

... wait wait it is final. I am broke. I am sorry for the disguise.

Liquo The Wolf said...

how did anyone get pms from that? and who ever asked what is pms, it is premenstrual syndrome, its something women old enough for child birth get that makes them really irritable and annoying to be around. if you want more then bing it.

Anonymous said...

Not a true local product as it's not made locally and Singapore requirement and standard are always much higher. Hence they can only sell their products in China. Even then, China can soon afford luxury items like ppl in Europe and Asia soon. Forget about Creative. Even now, Asus makes better soundcard. What is Creative waiting? How long does it needs to wait? They deserve the snail award.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for whacking again in one form or another or using multiple names or accounts. Please ignore my senseless posts from now onwards.

Anonymous said...

Senseless ppl says ppl sending senseless post. What suggestion would u give? If we can't provide views then let's provide views to Samsung, Apple, Asus and so on. No point being here sending senseless post and just to persuade them. Will stop posting again as we are view senseless here.

Anonymous said...

I can provide views to Samsung apple asus I am sooooo naive hahahahahah

Anonymous said...

...ramakandra is a twat...

Anonymous said...

Chicken... Childish

Your Boss said...

Slut... Get back to work.

Anonymous said...

hahaha eq too low. fail

Anonymous said...

meh extreme low. epic fail muahahaha

Anonymous said...

his needs is simple. but he needs to feed the 3k people and shareholders. so hope he put in the > 25% gross and >7% net.

Anonymous said...

let's hope they put in the wow factor into the sale of hanzpad and not a meow again.

Anonymous said...

....Zzzzzzz....

Anonymous said...

"We're coming round the corner now."
what corner? corner to jump off the climb together with sim? corner to sell off ziilabs and creative knowledge china? corner where china sabotaged creative's tech?

Anonymous said...

Google take over creative please. Good synergy. Android needs sound standard. you also get some patents and you can design your own chip too. you don't like china, so you can sell off minority stake in creative knowledge china.

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