Horace Dediu's asymco.com (Twitter: @asymco) is one of the best mobility analysis sites out there, so I was excited about his recent trip to China, hoping that he'd have some special insights in his Critical Path podcast with Dan Benjamin.
Alas, apparently he was only here for five days, and it was a vacation with friends, so his observations were purely as a tourist, though of course a smart guy like him can't help but notice interesting things.
He visited a PC Mall and bought some cheap cables. He was frustrated to find that Twitter/FB don't work here. To him, China is the familiar case of a developing country that follows the Japan/Korea model of Asian development, converting "peasants into factory workers" for a straightforward boost to GDP that will bring them a long way but won't necessarily translate into an innovation powerhouse.
He points out that soon China will be Apple's biggest market, but he didn't dwell on the possible consequences and instead devoted most of the podcast to his take on how this year's WWDC shows Apple is becoming more friendly to an ecosystem of partners.
Bottom line: worthwhile podcast if you want to hear more about Apple and the mobile industry, but not much insight about China.
By the way, I was intrigued to hear that, like me, he gave up regularly reading the Economist some time ago. Though filled with great writing, their perspective puts too much faith in macroeconomics which I think perceptive readers after a while lose confidence in its explanatory power. I mean, they provide an interesting well-written narrative to explain what happened, but I just haven't seen many cases where that macroeconomic viewpoint helps you see the future.