About Contributor

C. Custer

I'm a guy who writes stuff, mostly about technology and video games in China. I also made a documentary film about child trafficking. You can follow me on Twitter as @ChinaGeeks.
If you're going to accuse me of being a paid shill, at least have the balls not to hide behind an anonymous screen name like a coward. I've never been paid for an article here by anyone other than Tech in Asia. As for Qihoo's phone, we'll see. They've already failed three times. Maybe the fourth time's the charm. I highly doubt it.

Commented 23 hours ago on

3 reasons Zhou Hongyi’s Qiku is not going to beat Xiaomi
China's military definitely is already making drones. The Pentagon estimates it will have 42,000 by 2023.

Commented 2 days ago on

Drone explosion? Nearly $200M has been poured into China’s drone industry in the past few months
Well these are all consumer drone companies, but yeah. I can see it dropping fast. When the novelty wears off, only a very small group of people have practical need for a $1000 camera drone.

Commented 3 days ago on

Drone explosion? Nearly $200M has been poured into China’s drone industry in the past few months
Seems like a cool idea. Guessing they're going to need a lot more funding, though.

Commented 3 days ago on

These ex-directors of Flipkart show sellers how to crack ecommerce
Good news for startups, especially in this economic climate!

Commented 3 days ago on

The Infosys old boys’ club spawns a new fund for startups in India
I feel like this is a product that's actively making the world a worse place.

Commented 4 days ago on

Otaku dream: this smart anime body pillow responds to your caress
But the funny thing is that if the rate of assault is 1 per 500 with taxis and 1 per 10,000 with Ubers, people will still condemn Uber because it is new.
That's not really why. It's because Uber is operating outside of the established law for transportation companies, and its driver hiring and safety processes are not public. If the rate of assault is 1 per 500 with taxis, then you can go to the government and do something about that - there is legislation in place, legal standards for hiring ALL cab companies must abide by, etc. You can change those standards. But Uber wants to place itself outside this system, so if Uber has a systemic problem with unsafe drivers, what can you do? Avoid Uber or complain and hope they change on their own. There's not enough transparency or oversight at present.
people are probably generally safer in Ubers
Genuine question - why do you say this? What would make Uber drivers less likely to partake in criminal activity than drivers for other companies?

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
If a driver knows that someone is looking out for their passenger, they will think twice.
Why do you assume this, though? I mean yes, that might be true. It's certainly logical. But why ascribe a lot of logic to someone who's going to rob and rape somebody in the middle of a crowded city with millions of surveillance cameras at every intersection, not to mention someone who booked an app that would probably make it easy for police to find him. I mean yeah, in theory, maybe it would help deter some people. But I don't think it's wise to assume that it will deter all, or even most, criminals. I highly doubt it would have deterred this one.

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
Possibly. But the difference, I think, is that for taxi cab drivers there's an established legal framework set up by the government. Their ID information is right there in the cab with you. If one of them commits a crime, there's a system that's in place that we can look to to see what maybe went wrong, or get information about how they got hired, licensed, etc. - at least in theory. Maybe it's not perfect or not applied well, but there's a framework there. For services like Uber there isn't - and Uber doesn't want there to be, because it doesn't want to have to treat drivers like employees. So these cases are especially significant when they happen to ridesharing apps, I think, because they call these questions to light: what processes does Uber use to hire drivers? To check their background, etc.? Uber is a private company and claims not to be subject to regular transportation laws, so it's really not as clear. This is not to say that Uber does bad background checks or anything - we have no evidence of that in China. But because it's a private company that doesn't need to share ANYTHING about its hiring process and that's fighting against having taxi-cab legislation apply to it, I think it's very logical that these cases get a lot of attention. They highlight one of the reasons why some people think governments should either apply regular transit law to Uber and competitors or come up with a new legal framework to regulate this industry so that it has things like standardized driver background checks and safety standards.

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
I don't think pretending to be on the phone would help at all. This guy was willing to rob her at knifepoint, rape her, and hold her for three hours despite knowing there was an electronic trail that could lead to him and that he was driving by all kinds of surveillance cameras. I highly doubt he would have been put off just because the victim was on the phone.

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
Yeah. Uber competitor Ola has a women for women cab service in India, but Uber hasn't adopted it anywhere yet AFAIK. Not sure why; it seems like a great idea.

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
I actually wrote an article a while back that explains exactly why Smartisan (and many other companies) say things like that. The short version of it: they don't really plan to kill off Apple and are well aware it's a totally different audience, but using that kind of rhetoric is great for promotion. They can play the local underdog battling the foreign behemoth - it's a compelling narrative they can push and benefit from without actually having to compete with Apple.

Commented 4 days ago on

After tough first year, China’s Smartisan reveals new smartphone
Yeah, a lot of the Weibo comments have mentioned that too. I didn't want to include that in the article because it ventures a bit close to victim-blaming for me, but I will say that just from a personal standpoint, I wouldn't want to carry that much cash in a cab or ridesharing car. (People carrying around large sums of money is a bit more common in China than it is in many other places though.)

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
Yeah, there was this rape case a couple months ago. For that one, it was never reported which service the victim was using, though. Possibly Uber, possibly Didi, or possibly one of the smaller ones. The victim said she couldn't remember which app she used, which is kind of weird.

Commented 4 days ago on

Uber nightmare: Chinese woman robbed, sexually assaulted in three-hour ordeal
Rural ecommerce is growing fast in China too. But at the end of the day I think it'll still be the big ecommerce companies like JD and Alibaba that win.

Commented 5 days ago on

How a new breed of startups is cracking rural ecommerce in Asia
Very cool. Seems like a natural extension for coworking spaces, actually. I wonder if others are planning on doing the same...

Commented 5 days ago on

The Hub Singapore is launching an investment fund
A bigger movement would be great. But I think even one client telling them can't hurt; you never know who else they might already have heard it from.

Commented 6 days ago on

Cloud computing’s dirty little secret (and how to fix it)
I think there are a few reasons:
  1. The people who can build good tech and the people who believe in ghosts are generally not the same people, as Minh says.

  2. It's probably hard to get VC funding for a startup like this unless you find VCs that either believe or don't mind being called immoral for backing a startup that tricks/fools/misleads people.

  3. Your business could easily dry up overnight if someone comes up with an effective education campaign, or a skeptic becomes very popular, or something happens that disproves or casts doubt on your superstition in some way. Like say you run a psychic startup, and then your country's most famous psychic is revealed to be a fraud. That's going to hurt confidence in the whole industry a lot, and it could completely destroy interest in your business for a while (which for a startup could be fatal).

  4. Morally many people would argue that doing a startup like that is basically exploiting and promoting ignorance for profit. Even if YOU don't personally care, hearing friends/family/investors/employees complain about it a lot could get annoying

Commented 6 days ago on

Ask TIA: Why isn’t anyone building products for superstitious people?
This seems like an awesome program, and pretty easy to do. Wonder why other people weren't doing it already...

Commented 6 days ago on

Google rolls out internet bikes to teach women in rural India about the web