For those of you worrying over the fate of the new Lenovo-backed video game console, breathe a deep sigh of relief. After missing their November 2010 domestic launch date, CEO of Lenovo subsidiary eedoo Technology Jack Luo announced on Friday that the iSec, short for ‘Sports Entertainment Center’, would launch in the second half of 2011, and would only be sold outside of China if domestic sales topped 1 million units.
It was formerly called the ‘eBox’, a name which sounded suspiciously like some other tech giant’s much more established video game console. PCWorld reports that eedoo’s new machine aims to tap into the still nascent console gaming industry in China.
The iSec functions like Microsoft’s Kinect device and uses motion-sensing technology. Players’ movements are read by a camera, allowing games to be played with hand gestures and body motions.
China has a robust computer gaming market because of the proliferation of the Internet. But console games have yet to take off, as they have faced legal obstacles. Popular overseas gaming companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have had their best-selling consoles banned by the Chinese government because of concerns that the devices will harm the country’s youth.
The iSec and its functionality follow the industry-wide fixation with motion gaming, with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 adding camera-based peripherals last year to compete with the nefarious Nintendo Wii.
However, since video game consoles have been officially ‘banned’ in China since 2000 (poorly enforced, like many other bans), the iSec will mainly compete with several other motion-based gaming systems already on the market, including the Vii and the i-dong (and though it doesn’t support motion games, we felt it would be remiss not to mention the PS3-inspired Winner).
Silly though the imitation products might seem, the unoriginal gaming systems point to a an essential problem that lies at the heart of Chinese business practices. Namely, that too many local companies subscribe to a ‘shanzhai’ culture that is either unwilling or incapable when it comes to innovation, underestimating the sophistication of their consumers, and choosing to make cheaper simulacras of well-established brands.
Whatever the excuses are, be they the education system that stifles creativity, poor intellectual property laws, or even Confucius, hopefully companies like eedoo will wake up and smell the milk tea one day to realize that products like the iSec aren’t going to cut the global tech mustard.
By Fan Huang