News Roundup: 6 November 2008

From this morning’s cursory glance through the Straits Times (print edition).

  • Burger King has finally brought the Quad Stacker to Singapore. I never understood the point of marketing a burger called the Quad Stacker, and offering wimp-out options like a Double or Triple variation. Locally, these are being called the “Bold Stacker” (2 patties) and the “Brave Stacker” (3 patties). If you want to eat like a (fat) man, you also have to have swallow your pride and self-respect by saying “I’d like a Ballsy Stacker, please.” Imagine that.

    As of today, I’m publicly offering my services to any company about to make a stupid marketing move. If you have even the smallest iota of doubt about a name, promotion, slogan, or ad that you’re about to debut, please call me. I might not even charge you, depending on how much I like your brand. Burger King, I adore you. We could have avoided this. Call me.

  • Starhub has conceded that they won’t be able to sell the iPhone here by year’s end after all. You may remember back in July when it became clear that Singtel had won the rights to local distribution, and would be part of the second wave of some twenty-two countries to get the iPhone in August. At that time, M1 and Starhub released statements that they were confident of offering the device by the end of 2008, despite the unlikelihood of this. Apple’s global deployment follows an easily discernible pattern. For those we’ve seen so far, deals were made in each country with single or multiple telcos before a coordinated roll-out with many territories beginning sales on a common date. That is how it was done on the 22nd of August, and again on the 26th of September. The fourth phase begins tomorrow, on the 7th of November, for countries such as Botswana and Croatia.

    In no case that I am aware of has Apple ever opened up distribution in a country where the iPhone was already available from a single telco, to multiple telcos. If multiple telcos were not awarded iPhone rights from Day One, it is unlikely that agreement will change until the global roll-out is complete. Singtel may also have paid for exclusive rights lasting anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, but may not be able to discuss it. That M1 and Starhub expressed confidence to the press whilst still in discussions with Apple – as they reiterated today, saying that talks were still on, but Apple had their own priorities – was incalculably foolish. One does not court Apple by doing anything but follow the rules, secrecy being one of the tacitly understood, and not speaking on its behalf being the most important.

    M1 was probably never going to get it this year after their CEO put his foot in his mouth about the iPhone not being a 3.5G device. I suspect Starhub executives were well aware of their slim chances, and only made an open show of bravado to prevent sales and stock prices from slipping. I’m not sure if that’s illegal, but it should be. Either way, they deserve a couple of Ballsy Stackers.

  • Some guy got elected President somewhere. I think Iran or Pakistan.
  • The Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) has started enforcing a dress code for its students, and few are happy about it. If you were thinking suits, ties, and cufflinks in the heat of a Singaporean summer, you’d be quite wrong. Instead the school only asks that students not dress like complete sluts (the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory) and fishmongers (I like fishmongers as people). Slippers, singlets, short shorts, mini-skirts, cheap dye jobs, and bermuda shorts form most of the listed fashion crimes.

    To come out and say it, I think this was a move long overdue. I’m very disappointed that the NUS & NTU, our two most prominent universities, have not taken similar steps. They discourage sloppy dressing, but do nothing to prevent it. I am appalled that the Singapore Management University (SMU) has no stated dress code whatsoever. This is just a colossal embarrassment for the ideals of higher education.

    Yes, it should not have to be enforced. Yes, people should be free to decide on their own. But those decisions should start and begin with the realization that it is not respectful of your own purpose, your field of expertise, your parents, your tutors, and your country (even if you are a foreign student) if you can’t put on a pair of pants and wipe the drool off your face before attending classes at a university. We’ve always subscribed to a philosophy of heavy-handed, artificially accelerated social evolution (engineering, even) here in Singapore. We’ve turned things around from a time where spitting, urinating, and sleeping on the streets have gone from commonplace sights to reviled acts of antisociality. If we hadn’t done so, one might argue, foreign investments and economic growth may have eluded us for far longer. We should not be, and likely are not, ashamed of this. Asking students of a management institute or university to put some proper clothes on is not something to suddenly be surprised or upset about. And it should not have to be enforced.

    Unless it’s a degree mill or those students just don’t give a shit about learning. Hey, I’m just sayin’.

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