The Economist:

The country that cut poverty the most was China, which in 1980 had the largest number of poor people anywhere. China saw a huge increase in income inequality—but even more growth. Between 1981 and 2010 it lifted a stunning 680m people out poverty—more than the entire current population of Latin America. This cut its poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to about 10% now. China alone accounts for around three quarters of the world’s total decline in extreme poverty over the past 30 years.

Just to elaborate a bit more on the Bill Gates post from yesterday, these stats are crazy. The economic rise of China has decimated extreme poverty in that country — and has led to a huge improvement (percentage-wise) for the world at large.

Keith Bradsher:

Just five years after China’s high-speed rail system opened, it is carrying nearly twice as many passengers each month as the country’s domestic airline industry. With traffic growing 28 percent a year for the last several years, China’s high-speed rail network will handle more passengers by early next year than the 54 million people a month who board domestic flights in the United States.

Surprise: if you build it, they will come. Wouldn’t it be great if the United States could figure this out?

Benedict Evans:

But there’s also another proposition, a $75-$150 black generic Chinese Android tablet, half the price of a Nexus 7. That proposition is also selling in huge numbers, but it appears to come with a very different type of use. 

Why are people buying these? What are they being used for? They’re mostly in China (that’s the pink bar above) and emerging markets and in lower income groups in the west. And it seems that they’re being used for a little bit of web, and a  bit of free gaming. Perhaps some book reading. And a LOT of video consumption. In fact, one might argue that for many buyers, these compete with TVs, not iPads, Nexuses and Tabs. But regardless of what they’re being used for, they’re not being used the way iPads are used. In effect, they are the featurephones of tablets. 

Fascinating to think that two products at opposite ends of the same category can be so drastically different.

John Gruber:

When the iPhone 5C came out last month and was not “low cost”, many took it as a sign that Apple was somehow ignoring China. I would say it’s just the opposite: they’re skating to where the puck is heading, not where it is, and positioning their products to thrive as China’s upper class grows.

The most simple observation that as usual, most everyone overlooked.

Wayne Ma:

Lian Jiyu, 25 years old, said he wanted the 5S over the 5C because the 5S is the first phone to be offered in a gold color. “I don’t care what’s inside the device,” said Mr. Lian, who works at a local TV station. “Chinese people like gold,” he said. Mr. Lian was in line at 4 a.m. but ultimately was turned away four hours later because he hadn’t pre-ordered the device.

Remember all those folks who scoffed at the gold iPhone? It seemed to be everyone but this guy.

David Barboza:

Doing business in China takes a lot of cash because Chinese authorities refuse to print any bill larger than the 100-renminbi note. That’s equivalent to $16. Since 1988, the 100-renminbi note, graced by Mao Zedong’s visage, has been the largest note in circulation, even though the economy has grown fiftyfold. (The country’s national icon, Chairman Mao, appears on nearly every note: the 1-, 5-, 10-, 20, 50- and 100- renminbi note.)

That’s crazy. Also crazy at the opposite end: the EU’s 500-euro note.

If I were Amazon I’d be selling the hardware, not the content.

Shaun Rein, the managing director of China Market Research Group, speaking to Bloomberg.

It’s interesting just how poorly Amazon is doing in China. This can be seen two ways: either they’re being out-Amazon’d there by Alibaba and will never be able to crack the country (just as eBay couldn’t). Or the massive upside if they are able to crack China eventually.

But, as Rein’s quote indicates, Amazon may have to flip its content-driven model. It’s hard to subsidize hardware with content sales when people refuse to pay for content.

Chales Fishman for The Atlantic:

GE wasn’t just able to hold the retail sticker to the “China price.” It beat that price by nearly 20 percent. The China-made GeoSpring retailed for $1,599. The Louisville-made GeoSpring retails for $1,299.

Time-to-market has also improved, greatly. It used to take five weeks to get the GeoSpring water heaters from the factory to U.S. retailers—four weeks on the boat from China and one week dockside to clear customs. Today, the water heaters—and the dishwashers and refrigerators—move straight from the manufacturing buildings to Appliance Park’s warehouse out back, from which they can be delivered to Lowe’s and Home Depot. Total time from factory to warehouse: 30 minutes.

American manufacturing seems poised for a comeback. Not for everything, but for a lot of things.

John Gruber is all over the fallout of the This American Life/Mike Daisey fiasco.

The New York Times ran an op-ed by Daisey about his fabricated tales (the day after Steve Jobs passed away, no less). CBS News had a report in January widely citing Daisey.

So far, this all appears to be unrelated to the separate NYT article that kicked off the “iEconomy” series. But is there any question that Daisey’s initial “reports” at least in part led to these subsequent reports?

Reports that seemed to focus solely on Apple for no real reason beyond the fact that they’re now the largest tech company in the world with a possible blindspot thanks to Daisey’s story. 

Reports filled with suggestions that Tim Cook called “patently false and offensive”.

Holy shit this is bad. That’s all you can really say. This episode was easily the most widely circulated in the tech community for obvious reasons. And it generated thousands of other related stories.

Host Ira Glass:

I have difficult news. We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China - which we broadcast in January - contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. 

It appears that Daisey pulled a Stephen Glass (no relation to Ira, pure coincidence):

Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.