On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Stop the whining!

With newer and smarter phones in the market, there are no other compelling reasons why I should hold on to the BB. It cannot download The Star’s e-paper, a digital replica of our print edition, and does not have the wide range of applications that help to make life on the move complete.

So, I am now in the midst of migrating entirely to my Samsung Galaxy Note. If the BB breaks down, it will not be repaired. It will just become a memory of the past, like my earlier Nokia mobile phones. We just have to move on.

Those of us who are older will remember the cassettes and cartridges that delivered music to us once upon a time.

Now, even the CD’s days may be numbered as it not only has to compete with smaller devices with higher storage capacity, but also WiFi processes that stream music direct to us.

I am also using a Samsung tablet and an iPad, but I must say that the Samsung Tablet 2 has better features and its slim size fits nicely inside my sling bag. I love my two Samsung devices, really, and it looks like Samsung is emerging as the big winner.

If there’s a lesson to be learnt here, it is about innovation. While Samsung comes out with a few different improved models each year, we used to have to wait for someone, dressed in his iconic black turtleneck and jeans, to unveil an Apple product once a year.

Phone users keep wanting new gadgets with better applications. They don’t have the patience to wait a year for a new iPhone.

Both Apple and Samsung are embroiled in legal battles over copyright infringement but seriously, look at the new iPad, which has shrunk in size. It is reminding many of us that Apple seems to be copying the Samsung tablet!

The Samsung-Apple case came up during my chat with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the Chawan coffee shop in Bangsar on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister, who is using both the Apple and Samsung products, told our group that innovation has to be a part of the Malaysian vocabulary.

“We need to be focused, precise and innovative. The Germans, for example, are known for their precision, which makes them very good with machines. I can’t tolerate lebih kurang, that’s not good for Malaysia. It shouldn’t be in our vocabulary,” the PM said.

We, in turn, told the PM that Malaysia’s tolerance for mediocrity is well known and we seem prepared to settle for second best. With our “boleh terima lah” forgiving nature, we are definitely not helping Malaysians to excel.

But we have to keep changing and improving.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company in terms of market capitalisation, has reportedly slid 20% in its share value in less than two months. Its stock now is reportedly below the US$705.05 all-time high it hit the day before the iPhone5 was unveiled on Sept 21. It’s certainly far away from the US$1,000 valuation that some insane analysts had predicted.

It’s just over a year since Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs passed away and his successor Tim Cook has found Samsung breathing down his neck.

Apple’s share of the tablet market has declined, reportedly falling from almost two-thirds to just above half between the second and third quarters. In fact, the media reported that Apple missed its last financial targets because of slow iPad sales.

The world is now crazy over anything and everything Korean and the sight of Psy trotting around the globe is likely to help Samsung products.

But China-made Huawei is also selling high-quality, cheap devices that’s giving Apple a fight in the Asian markets.

And what about the newspaper industry, where print is said to be on the decline? While many media companies whine and complain without doing anything significant, The Star stepped up to the challenge and introduced its e-paper in July.

In just four months, it gained close to 50,000 subscribers, which is an incredible figure and bucks the trend. Even the circulation of The Star’s print version has gone up, surpassing the 300,000 a day figure. Putting the newspaper on mobile devices like the Samsung or iPhone has certainly been innovative.

The point is that just like any business, innovation is the key factor for any entrepreneur to improve its products, boost sales and increase revenue.

Whining is the easiest part, and that seems to have become our national pastime when it comes to trying to make things better. But coming up with ideas and workable solutions and being able to execute them is the harder part.

If we are to stay competitive, innovation should not only be our buzz word, it should also be our way of life.