Who’s In The Market For Pickup?

After sitting in the Annenberg lobby for 30 minutes trying to muster up the courage to talk to the girl sitting next to television wall; she suddenly gathers her belongings, places them into her backpack and walks out the door. This is the third time this happened this month. Where do you turn? Our parents never taught us about how to talk to girls. School only taught us algebra and English. Naturally, you turn to the first place you go to find any information, Google. “How do I talk to girls?” The first three results are wikihows…. alright that does not help at all. Who do you know that is the best with girls? Well Stan never seemed to have any issue with girls, but it would be embarrassing to ask him. Okay back to Google. “How to…pickup girls?” Wow all these websites look so creepy. Maybe YouTube? A guy picking up girls in a fat suit? No way! These Simple Pickup guys actually look pretty normal.

This is the story of how several fans stumbled upon Simple Pickup’s YouTube channel. Bijan, the newest member of Simple Pickup team, explained in a personal interview that this is exactly how he found out about the YouTube personalities. There are many other pickup companies and YouTube channels that have come under fire for sexual harassment, however the guys at Simple Pickup have been able to set themselves apart from the negative coverage in the media.

Pickup has different meanings for different people. Google defines a pickup artist as a person who practices finding, attracting, and seducing sexual partners, usually women. There are many different individuals who claimed to have invented ‘pickup’ but the individuals that brought the subject into the public’s eye were Erik James Horvat-Markovic, also known as Mystery, and Neil Strauss, the author of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.” Mystery hosted a reality competition on VH1 called “The Pickup Artist.” After watching the show many people went out to seek additional resources and Neil Strauss’ book became a New York Times best seller.

Simple Pickup is one of three companies that provide instructional videos and bootcamps for men across the world that are interested in learning how to pickup women.

Real Social Dynamics or RSD, consists of a group of guys that were featured in in Neil Strauss’ book, “The Game.”

Neil Strauss created a website selling his books and instructional videos called Stylelife.com.
Currently these three companies dominate the market of pickup.

The traditional business models of these companies is to sell instructional DVD’s, teach in person workshops with one on one instruction called bootcamps, and host seminars teaching pickup to their customers. These seminars typically consist of one pick up teacher that stands in front of about 30-40 men teaching what they know about the subject. The two other companies both bootcamps that cost about $2,000 to attend.

Let’s break down each company and the products they offer:

Real Social Dynamics
They have the biggest variety of coaches and host seminars and bootcamps all over the world. A majority of the coaches were students of Mystery and decided to band together to create a global scale business for teaching pickup to men all over the world. Their most infamous coach’s name is Julian Blanc who has recently come under fire for teaching sexual harassment to his students. The information they teach is extremely technical and dissects social interactions as a step of actions, almost like a video game. RSD is heavily theory based.

Seminar: $1,000 (3 days, a coach speaks in front of 20-30 students)
Bootcamp: $2,000 (3 to 1 in person instruction with live feed back)
DVD’s: $600 (Instructional videos that teach students the foundations of pickup)


Resource: http://www.realsocialdynamics.com

Style Life
Created by Neil Strauss the author of “The Game.” There is also a lot of theory involved but ultimately tries to teach a lifestyle. The entire mood of his website and the information he teaches has a James Bond like feel. The site looks a bit archaic because Neil Strauss has decided to focus more on his writing career. Though products and books are still on sale.

One hour coaching calls:$125 (ask the coaches any questions related to pickup)
DVD’s: $140 (Instructional videos that teach students the foundations of pickup)
8 CD: $40 each (Audio lessons from various pickup artists that are friends of Neil Strauss)
Bootcamps: $2,000 (In person coaching, 3 days)
Online program: $1,850 (Most recent product after Simple Pickup introduced Simple 30)

Style Life

Resource: http://web.stylelife.com

Simple Pickup
Simple Pickup approaches the business from different angle. They focus more on a lifestyle than the technicalities of pickup. Their products are dramatically less expensive than RSD and Style Life because they hope to reach a broader audience that discovered them through YouTube.

Project GO: $30 a month (a monthly subscription produces new content weekly for subscribers consisting of video, podcasts, and Q&A’s.)
Simple 30: $400 (an online bootcamp which Style Life models its online program after)
Simple Mixology: $20 (videos that teach you how to make 10 drinks for any situation)

Project Go

Resource: http://go.simplepickup.com/s4/?sess=3d13167a1f9f413e14aa23328274c69c

RSD and Style Life both teach theory heavy content that relies on formulas and rehearsed lines. Out of these three of these companies, Simple Pickup is by far the most successful and socially accepted company in the public. They have been featured on NBC news, Good Morning America, and several international stations, Simple Pickup has been able to establish themselves as a company that does more than simply teaching guys how to be successful with women. They strongly discourage the use rehearse lines because they feel that social interactions should have a natural flow and stem form a place of authenticity. Their ability to have fun and inject humor into any social situation they are in makes them unique. Kong the Chief Executive Officer explained to me in an interview that they “want to provide a unique experience of fun and valuable information at the same time, we like to call it info-tainment.” They are masters at consistently crafting viral videos on YouTube, and backing project that have more social significance than simply just pickup.

Jesse Jhaj, Kong Pham, and Jason Roberts, three friends that met at Cal State Fullerton, created Simple Pickup 2011 and have since created three life style products for their subscribers, Project GO, Simple 30, and Simple Mixology. Unlike their predecessors, they have an extremely successful YouTube channel. Before even creating a product that they could sell, they understood the importance of establishing an audience first. The biggest issues surrounding previous pickup companies is the lack of trust consumers have with the product. $2,000 dollars is a lot to gamble away on an individual that claims to be an expert in their field without any proof. Jesse, Kong, and Jason decided to release videos of them picking up girls in a fat suit, talking in the voice of Batman, and dressing up in Game of Thrones costumes. All of this effort proves consumers that not only are they able to do this normally, but they are also able to do it in the more ridiculous circumstances. If they can dress up this ridiculously confidence is the most important factor, not appearance. After establishing that sense of trust with their consumers, they launched Project GO.

Project GO is a monthly subscription-based product that comes with a new instructional video, podcast, and Q&A video every Monday. The subscription costs $30 per month and has changed the business model for the pickup community dramatically. With the introduction of online content, consumers from all over the world can access the content. In the past, the high cost of shipping internationally deterred buyers from buying products from RSD and Style Life. What Simple Pickup does extremely well is 2-way communication that they learned from YouTube. Commenting on a video allows for a conversation not only with the other subscribers, but with the content creators as well. Simple Pickup can produce content that their audience actually wants to see. In comparison to the other pickup companies, Simple Pickup is projected to generate the most revenue over time because Project Go is a subscription-based product. Amazon makes a substantial amount of money through their Amazon Prime subscription; Costco’s entire business model is centered on a yearly subscription membership. Costco does not make any money from selling items at bulk to customers but instead charges $55 for a yearly subscription. They have 50 million subscribers and generate two billion seven hundred fifty million dollars a year. Project GO stylistically looks a lot better than its competitors.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.54.38 PM

Resource: http://go.simplepickup.com/s4/?sess=3d13167a1f9f413e14aa23328274c69c

The two main sources of revenue come from Project GO and bootcamps. As the company developed, Jesse, Kong and Jason realized that they did not have enough time to host bootcamps for their subscribers while the demand for them exponentially increased. In order to satiate the hunger of the consumers for bootcamps, they created Simple 30.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.09.14 PM

Resource: http://go.simplepickup.com/s4/?sess=3d13167a1f9f413e14aa23328274c69c

Simple 30 is an online bootcamp costing $400 that is a substitute for an in person bootcamp. The drop in cost and online distribution of the product provides a more efficient business model and allows more individuals to experience the bootcamp at a lower price point. For 30 days, you receive a daily challenge that is demonstrated by the guys, after completing the challenge; you will have a reflective exercise that gauges what you did well and what you can do better. The main focus of Project GO and Simple 30 is not to have sex with as many girls as possibly, but rather develop the confidence through social interactions to be the best version of you. Their most recent product, Simple Mixology, teaches how to make 10 drinks fit for any situation. Simple Pickup’s goal is to become the #1 resource for men around the world. Since launching Simple 30, Style Life has introduced a master guide that includes video challenges and sheet that tracks your progress overtime. RSD is quickly trying to create a product that matches the content of Simple Pickup.

One of the biggest concerns between the three pickup companies is the leaking of content. They are selling how to’s and this kind of product is hard to protect. The information because infinitely harder to protect when it is put on the Internet because of online piracy. Both Style Life and RSD’s content have been leaked online but I could not find anything on Simple Pickup. When I asked them about it, office intern Matthew Tran answered, “we go through great lengths to try to defend against online piracy and honestly our stuff is priced so low that I believe people support us by actually buying the content. Our fan base is pretty loyal and loves to tune in every week to hear Jesse and Kong share their thoughts on the podcast. We also have posted two free project go videos on our YouTube channel as a free sample so people get to see what they are buying.” Similar to Itunes and Amazon, Simple Pickup has lowered the price enough to make buying Simple Mixology and Project GO much more reasonable than products from RSD and Style Life. However since United States is one of the leaders in piracy not only in music but several other forms of entertainment, online distributors of content must take necessary measures to combat this.


Because they have crated light hearted and fun videos they have also brought in a larger consumer base, many people who do not know what pickup is will stumble upon their videos. Kong, Chief Executive Officer, explained that “[Simple Pickup] is the light hearted foundation people need to have when they start pickup. Once they are done learning from us then I suggest they learn from RSD but do remember to take their advice with a grain of salt. While they do teach some valuable stuff, some of it is crosses the line like the most recent incident with Julien Blanc.”

In the past three months, the scandal surrounding one of RSD’s coaches, Julien Blanc has tarnished the name of every company involved in pickup. Blanc was recorded in a seminar teaching his students to choke girls as a conversation starter in Japan because he claimed, “If you are white, you can get away with anything [in Asia].” The world broke out in rage. The United Kingdoms denied a visa application from Blanc, Australia canceled Blanc’s visa, and the Internet has petitioned to kick Blanc out of Brazil. The other pickup artists in this community have a tendency of objectifying and manipulating women. Simple Pickup teaches from day one that they frown upon any behavior that objectifies women. They have continually reinforced the idea their message of building confidence and leading a healthier social life, not objectifying and manipulating women. Most guys that are too afraid to approach women are typically nice guys that have amazing personalities but because of the lack of confidence, they are unable to share their personality with other people. Instead they cave under social pressure and are unable to live the social lives they would like to.

After interviewing the office intern from Simple Pickup, Matthew Tran revealed that there initially was a slight drop in subscribers on YouTube and Project GO after the Blanc incident. While not intentionally timed to combat the negative press, they released a Tinder experiment video with two of their friends dressed up in fat suits. Their friends Willy Beck and Sarah Smith set up dates with unknowing individuals on Tinder and showed up to the date in a fat suit. The video with Sarah created more buzz online than Willy’s because of the difference in reaction across the sexes. Four out of five of Sarah’s dates decided to leave after seeing Sarah in person simple because she was overweight. Only one girl left after seeing Willy’s transformation. This Tinder experiment set Simple Pickup apart from the various other prank channels and pickup companies because they understand the double standard that is present in the dating world and wanted to bring the subject to the forefront of conversation with one of the most popular dating apps used today. Many individuals on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have commended Simple Pickup on the success of their video. After this video released, they experienced a spike in subscribers seen on this graph:

SP Graph

Resource: http://channelgraphs.com/channel/SimplePickup/graphs

Simple Pickup continues to evolve the taboo and socially sensitive topic of pickup through their website and YouTube channel. Simple Pickup launches a new project every three months, either a product, informational public service announcement, or hilarious public image campaign, all of which continually reinforces them as a unique pickup company that teaches a healthy life style. Almost every single man deals with approach anxiety and their product is lesson in social interactions that men have never been taught.

Check them out at
Project GO

Asia’s Work Force Problem

The world looks to Asia as a massive workforce that produces a lot of the products the world enjoys today. iPhone are created in China, Samsung phones and television are created in Korea, Japan has been known to be at the forefront of technology, the world has become a smaller place. However a rising issue among the younger generation is entry into the work force.

Japan has struggles with the younger generations introduction into the work force. The issue in Japan stemmed from Japan’s desire to protect their older workers. As a result, many younger workers who are extremely qualified often times are more skilled than the older workers. Younger more educated workers were then kept on a temporary staff that yielded no stability that caused several young workers to move to other Asian countries like Taiwan.


In China, parents reported that their children do nothing but sit at home and play video games. The world of online gaming has grown so big all over Asia that many parents are unable to motivate their children to pursue a life outside their online avatar. The Japanese even have a word for this, an Otaku. The word Otaku in Japanese means, a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills. This past summer while traveling in Shanghai my father and I had a conversation with the taxi driver discussing how his son was in his 30’s unemployed and constantly playing video games at home. He did not work, he did not leave the house and only socialized with his friends online. We were shocked to hear this story as a common thread among many parents in China. The taxi driver explained that his son did not feel motivated to leave the house and search for a job as time passed, his son became less qualified and the barrier of entry began to rise rapidly. At this point in his thirties he sees no point in trying to enter the work force because the advance of his career seems handicapped.


China’s economy has resulted in fierce competition for limited labor positions. However as time goes on and the generations grow older and the current workers are unable to work, the generation to replace them will not have skills that the previous generation had. The opposite is true in Japan but the result is the same. In Japan, younger workers are leaving Japan to work elsewhere and over time once the current workers retire, the scarce amount of skilled workers will have extreme detrimental effects on the economies in Asia specifically China and Japan. This could lead to a massive problem for many Asian countries that deal with the older workforce issue. Currently, the younger generations have been so discouraged for work that the issue has already started to unravel, there are jobs, but no job applicants because either no one is qualified or the super qualified has left the country already.


Food Truck Madness

About a month ago, I walked back from school to my apartment and on that walk back home I always pass a line of food trucks. These food trucks ranges from selling anything from Acai bowls to grill cheeses, I have seen food trucks for lobster rolls and even traditional Taiwanese snacks. These food trucks aid in the diet of college students, instead of eating top ramen, we get to enjoy Gyros, Tacos and the USC based Craft truck. Why have so many started to pop up LA?


Several food truck owners express their reason for entering the food truck business simply by saying that it takes a little less capital starting a food truck than starting a restaurant. The owner of the grill cheese truck express his happiness when he has customers that wait over an hour just to try his grill cheese and when they do the smile that emerges on their face is priceless. He also explained in a quick interview with The Thrash Lab that LA has been dying to experience street food for awhile, if you look around the world to Asia, Europe, and Latin America, street food is very prevalent, night markets flourish and LA’s answer to that culture is food trucks. Okay so we have seen food trucks everywhere, how much does it cost to start one?

Many individuals think that starting a food truck does not actually cost that much and is cheaper because you don’t have to pay for leasing but instead maybe just parking. This is true but starting a food truck ranges from costing $50,000 to $200,000 dollars according to Forbes. The ones spending money closer to $200,000 are usually high end restaurants that are using the food truck as a catering service. Any food truck that is spending less that $50,000 to start may raise concerns about transportation or quality of food preparation. A reasonable amount for starting a reliable food truck ranges from $70,000 to $80,000 dollars. The biggest issue for food trucks is stability. Customers do not know 100% if a food truck is going to be at a specific spot every time. For example, at USC food trucks are constantly fighting over parking spots. Many food trucks will park their own car overnight to save the spot for their food truck in the morning. A couple of weeks ago, an argument between two managers of food trucks sparked because they were fighting over the parking spot; one of the owners laid in the path of the other food truck challenging the driver to run him over. This business if very intense, because not getting that spot could mean the difference of making $500+ dollars that day. This business is extremely competitive especially because the number of new food trucks that are emerging are growing by the month. One of the most popular food trucks at USC is the Kogi truck that comes every Tuesday night at 10pm on Hoover close to campus. The wait can usually take up to 30 minutes to an hour, but it is completely worth the wait. Food truck festivals are also now a reoccurring event.


EDM The Music Of Millenials

I woke up Monday morning (after Halloween weekend), waking up to check social media and experience just for a brief moment, through the small window held in the palm of your hand, the events that took place this past weekend. In previous years, this Monday social media feed had been filled with pictures and videos of friends in their Halloween costumes and the various parties they went to. However, this Monday morning was filled with pictures of all my friends at music festivals. The two major music festivals that occurred this past weekend were Escape All Hallows Eve hosted by Insomniac and HARD Day of the Dead hosted by Hard. The presence of music festivals has been felt since the days of Woodstock, however the frequency of music festivals has risen dramatically in the past few years and its economic effects have not gone unnoticed.


The biggest Electronic Dance Music Festival on the west coast takes place in the middle of June in the infamous city of Las Vegas. This event that attracts over 345,000 festival goers for 3 days is called Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC. Mixjunkies.com reports that “since moving to Las Vegas in 2011, Insomniac has helped generate more than $621 million for the Las Vegas economy. Tickets sales report that festival goers come from all 50 states as well as 48 international countries.

How does EDC create so much revenue? Well people need places to stay, food to eat, gambling to be done, and day clubbing before the event actually happens. EDC actually creates $20.2 million dollars in tax revenue for Clark County. This graphic puts all the expenses into perspective.


EDC is not the only major music festival that generates this much revenue. The four biggest music festivals in the world include EDC, Ultra in Miami, Tomorrow Land in Belgium, and Tomorrow World in Atlanta. Insomniac has also seen how successful EDC is and has hosted EDC is several different locations such as EDC Puerto Rico, EDC Orlando, EDC UK, and EDC Mexico.

With the rise of the internet, the amount of DJ’s that have entered the scene has exponentially grown. As DJ Shadow stated in 2012, “we are living in a musical renaissance.” Baby boomers grew up with rock and roll, Gen X’ers had hip hop and punk rock, the millennials have EDM or electric dance music. Calvin Harris, the highest paid DJ names by Forbes, racked in a whopping 66 million over that past 12 months. The age od EDM has taken over radio stations like KissFM and countless music festivals will continue to emerge in the coming years.

Apple Joining The Phablet Market

Technology companies have dominated the business world of today through means of innovation and creativity. Technology allows us to make the world a smaller place and connect individuals from different ends of the world. On October 10th 2014, Apple announced their new iPhone 6 and iWatch. The biggest shock to the industry was the drastic increase of the screen size for the new iPhone. Apple had officially entered the phablet, phone/tablet market.

The single product the sky rocketed Apple to the top of the tech industry was its sale of the iPod, an improved version of the Walkman. Making the already invented mobile music playing device much smaller, more user friendly, and look nicer allowed Apple to truly sell a great product. Then Apple announced its first iPhone. The innovative feature of this groundbreaking technology: multitouch screen. In 1992 the IBM Simon was launched as the first touch screen phone but it was not very successful. Apple took that idea, refined and made it look sexy for consumers. In your hand you held the power of the internet with a single swipe of your finger, everyone had to have it. More compatible products were created, Macbook, iMac, iPod Touch, iPad, iCloud, etc. While Apple has established itself as one of the most successful mobile device providers, Google quickly stepped in to introduce its mobile software called Android.

There is unanimous agreement that Android has currently overtaken IOS as the most popular operating system on a mobile device in the U.S. and globally. According to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, “Android now holds 61.9% of the U.S. market share to Apple’s 32.5%.” Internationally, the numbers reflect a similar trend with Android having 82.7%market shares in China and 73.3% in other European countries. However even with this drastic market share difference, Apple has not cared about its dominance in this specific sector for a long time.

Apple still makes more money that all of the Android devices combined. Today, Apple’s biggest competitor is Samsung. Other smartphone companies such as HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Blackberry are all losing money. Samsung is the only other phone company right now other than Apple that is making money. Even so, Android does not sell more apps and does not generate more ad revenue than Apple. Companies will invest more money in Apple because it provides more real world usage data and Apple has an overwhelming share of smart phones and phablet app sales, web browser use, and ad network units. Additionally, the people who have recently joined the Android family are not Apple’s intended audience. This individuals buy the “junk phones” from companies like LG and HTC that do indeed operate on an Android system, however these individuals would not have bought an iPhone instead. With the dominant market share, Apple still makes more money because its target is the 15% of the top richest population in the world. But how exactly does Apple make money?

Apple sells, phones, computers, music players, but most importantly, it sells an idea: simplicity. Upon turning on the iPhone for the first time, the user quickly understands that to unlock the phone you must swipe your finger to the right. Without any instruction manual or video tutorial, any individual can figure out the basics to how to use an iPhone because the phone is very intuitive. Apple stands for simplicity and automation. Once an individual buys an iPhone, he or she is going to want to buy a Macbook to integrate the two systems, then an iPad for a more mobile form of the Macbook and finally purchase the iCloud to sync all of the data together across all platforms; this is just one person, now imagine a whole household. The wife needs a phone, the kids both need a phone, all of them buys apps on the apps store and to hold everyone’s data on the iCloud you need to buy more space. With one purchase of the iPhone you have now entered the uniform family plan of Apple, simplicity and automation at its best. Not everyone can afford this, but the people that can will buy everything and the newer versions of each product. Apple does not need to reach the 61.9% market share of Android, it only needs to cater to the 15% of the richest people in the world. Apple was king at holding this market down, however in the pas few years, Samsung has invaded with tremendous force and speed into the smartphone market. Samsung is Apple’s biggest competitor.

Samsung has thousands of technology patents and many companies have infringed on then, however they strategically chose not to pursue them in court. If Samsung does infringe on another companies patent and the other company chooses to sue them, the chance of the other company having previously infringed on their patents is fairly high. This exact situation occurred with Apple on patent infringement for multiple devices. Samsung quickly responded and counter sued and the war between the two giant tech companies began. After about a year of war, through trials and appeals, apple won and was awarded $930 million in damages. However, during this war, Samsung managed to take a portion of Apple’s smartphone market share. Samsun started as a fish and product exporting business and later entered the technological space of selling black-and-white televisions. Samnsung has a reputation of selling cheaper knock off brands and inferior products, but many people still bought their products because it was more affordable. Initially the smartphone market was no different.

The first major smartphone that set Samsung apart from other junk phone distributors was the Galaxy S. It first launched in Singapore on June 4 2010 and after the first weekend, Samsung had announced that the Galaxy S had sold out with the exclusive Samsung phone carrier in Singapore. The Galaxy series phone has drastically improved on the past model with each new version. Within the past 2 years, many iPhone users switched over to the Galaxy S4 and S5 simply because it had a bigger screen than the iPhone. Samsung had established itself as the leading player in the phablet market.

Steve Jobs was the face of Apple, he sold the idea of simplicity and automation to the general public. One of the biggest selling points at Steve Job’s key note speech for the first iPhone was the size, “it’s a phone that fits comfortably in your palm at 3.5 inches.” When the iPhone 5 was announced with the specs of a bigger screen, Apple quickly released a short 30 second commercial addressing the issue. Here is the video:

With the lost of smartphone market share to Samsung, Apple quickly realized that its user were switching over to Samsung for a bigger screen. Regardless of the message of Steve Jobs, they disregarded his message to win back their previous users. The age of the phablet has come and Apple’s transition into a larger screen confirms the change. All of the giant tech companies have entered the phablet market and competition will continue. Google and Apple have also had patent wars in the past but have agreed to drop all cases to focuses on creating better products. With this shift in focus, consumers can expect to see better products coming out in the near future. Apple learned from its war with Samsung that legal battles may result in a monetary gain mandated from the court, however, market share is dictated by how good of a product the companies can create. This is how a free market should be.
In preparation for its phablet unveiling, Apple released a guide on how Android users can easily import their media from their computer into iTunes to switch over to the iPhone 6. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6407?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

The opinions on preference between the two smartphones are split about evenly. However, interestingly enough, Gazelle, a tech-reviewing site that frequently analyzes the smart phone market, revealed that their trade-ins from the iPhone 6 to the Android tripled in the past week before the iPhone 6 launched.
SuperSaf TV on YouTube sums up the opinions on preference fairly well in his comparison review. He says, “Depends on what your preference is, do you prefer something with expandable storage, removable battery, and water and dust resistant or do you want something that looks and feels that much more premium.” The iPhone is branded as the stylish, sleek, and simple phone that makes your life a lot simpler, while the Galaxy S5 is branded as the highly customizable, more complicated and sophisticated phone that may appeal more to technology savvy individuals. Regardless of the preference between the two phone everyone agrees that the launch of the iPhone 6 has had a global effect. Apple’s dominance as a tech giant has been felt all the way over in China and Taiwan.

China and Taiwan make up the two biggest manufactures of parts for the iPhone 6. When the iPhone C came out, the manufactures in China and Taiwan suffered along side Apple because the price point was originally set too high. The supposedly cheaper and marked down version of the iPhone 5S still performed poorly because they missed the mark on their target demographic. As a result, a lot of parts were manufactured but not many iPhone C’s were bought. Apple learned from its mistakes from the iPhone C and priced the iPhone 6 at $199. China and Taiwan rejoiced because they new the price point was low enough to where the demand would be extremely high and they would be able churn out more products. The biggest company in the two countries that benefits from this is Hon Hai, previous known as FoxCom. While the iPhone is still an American product, if the product is assembled in a country and is then sold in any other country, it is considered an export of that country. The economist from focustaiwan.com projected that “the release of the iPhone 6 could add about 1 percent per month to China’s export growth for the rest of 2014, and boost Taiwan’s by around 2 percent per month from August to October.” Because it is counted as an export for the respective countries, Apple’s iPhone will help stimulate the GDP’s of both countries through the well known equation C + I + G + XN = GDP. Surprisingly however, the iPhone 6 is not actually the most popular smart phone in China. This buying chart from Wall Street Journal compares the iPhone to other phablets that are currently in the market.
China Buying Guide

The competition between all of these tech giants does not stop at smartphones. The next frontier of personalized technology is wearables. The Apple Watch was announced alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus marking Apple’s official entrance into the already tough market of smart watches. Google and Samsung have already attempted to tap into this new market but no one has done well. The biggest issue for smart watches is necessity. Misha Pollack, a tech reviewer on YouTube, argues that there is no reason for me to check a text message on my wrist when I can pull my phone out using the same amount of effort. The smart watches do not have a killer app, or a program/functionality that makes buying the product a necessity. Apple announced with its reveal of the Apple Watch that it is exploring the sector of health monitoring technologies; this includes heart rate, glucose levels, and a multitude of other health indicators. Quickly following this announcement, Google also announced its excitement in exploring this aspect of new technology.

Even with the dominating market share of Android as the preferred mobile operating system, Apple still walks out with the money. Having lost some of the smartphone market share from its battle with Samsung, the launch of the iPhone 6 was seen as Apple’s first strike in the new age of the phablet.

Are Haircuts a Monthly Necessity?

This past weekend, I drove to the City of Industry to get a hair cut from the same hair stylist that has been cutting my hair since I was 3 months old.

Vincent Chan, also known as Achan, has been a hair stylist for over 25 years. He learned how to style hair at a beauty school back in his hometown, Hong Kong. He speaks English, Cantonese, as well as Mandarin. This allows him to talk to customers of all different Chinese backgrounds.


I remember as a young child, my mother drove me to Vincent’s home to get a hair cut along with my cousins in his garage on a Saturday evening. This was the only time Vincent was free this weekend between working at the hair salon in Roland Heights and spending time with his family. Throughout the years, Vincent has upgraded from a salon chair in his garage to running his own Hair Salon in the City of Industry. Vincent has established a loyalty with his customers because his hairstyles get better with time. I have noticed throughout the years that his hair cuts may not look the absolute best after you walk out of the salon, however, after you wait a week or two, the hair grows into a natural yet carefully crafted look that I have not found with any other hair stylist.

He does have competition and I will admit that I have even personally gone to another hair cutter once before. However the reason Vincent has stayed in business for so long and attracts so many customers is this ability to plan for how the hair will grow in a couple of weeks.

One time my sister and I chose to try another hair stylist simply because we did not like the previous haircut from Vincent. Initially the new hair stylist gave us both haircuts that we loved as soon as we walked out of the salon, they looked great! However, after a few days we noticed that once our hair started growing, the hair style did not grow in a way that looked flattering and we quickly went back to Vincent after two or three weeks. He instantly noticed told us “You went to another hair cutter huh? I can tell because he’s an amateur and isn’t planning for how your hairstyle will look after your hair grows.” After that instance, I have not questioned Vincent’s skills on styling hair. I have asked to keep it shorter or longer in some areas but just as a general guideline because I trust him. Vincent has established customer base in the densely Chinese populated cities in Orange and LA County. The two cities he currently works out of are Irvine and City of Industry.

When the economy hit, he did feel a hit so he had to drop his prices a bit to accommodate for it. He has worked out of salons that charge him for renting the space as well as just hair cutting for commission. The revenue Vincent generates is contingent upon how much the salon charges him for using the space as well as how much he choses to charge his customers for a haircut. The recession did affect his business but not in the way one would traditionally expect it to. More interestingly, his customers asked if he could drop his price rather than them not showing up at all. The request was being triggered by the Chinese’s culture of upholding positive face or status. Many Chinese wives still went to Vincent to get their hair done extravagantly in order give off a false perception that the recession was not as detrimental to their family as it was to others, when in reality it may have been just as bad if not worse. He told me “I guess its just the Chinese culture of wanting to save face, but hey at least that meant I still had some business”. The frequency of visiting customers did not drop but instead the price he charged did because they asked for discounts.

Vincent’s business is actually relatively casual. There are no set prices. After the hair cut is over, you simply ask him how much you owe him and he gives you a number. My haircuts have ranged from $15-30$. It really just depends on how his family is doing or how the economy is doing. While this does seem quite absurd to some individuals, this is quite typical in Chinese culture, or at least what I’ve experienced in my 20 years of growing up in a Taiwanese family. Because my family has known Vincent for so long and has always gone to see him for our hair styling needs, he has kept the price relatively consistent. The only time prices increased was between the years of 2008-2010 and he admitted that he did charge us slightly extra because he knew we were loyal customers and would not mind pitching in a little more which we did not. However since then, he has not increased the price with us as he does with other customers or new customers. With that being said, because we have established that relationship my family along with myself still tip him rather generously. As a result, Vincent has always welcomed walk-ins for us because of how many years we have been going to him for hair styling.

In the past couple of years he has opened his own hair salon called Achan Salon. Achan is his Chinese name translated to English, personally I recognize him through that name as well. He had to get a loan to buy this salon. He got his loan for a relatively how interest rate however he asked me not to include the name of the bank as well as the interest rate because well it is relatively true stereotype that Chinese people are very careful with their money regardless of how trusted of a customer you may be. I can say that the bank is a widely used bank among the Chinese community in the San Gabriel valley area.


At his new salon, he is able to hire an assistant that helps with washing the customer’s hair before they get the hair cut. I was originally planning on asking him when I first visited him but kept in mind the Chinese culture of social respect so reframed form asking him when his assistant was there. When I went back home for the weekend, I made a short visit just to ask how much he was paying his assistant. Vincent explained that the assistant is more interested in learning the hair cutting trade than making money which is why he hired him in the first place. Technically, Vincent doesn’t need an assistant, he can wash the hair himself or not wash it at all if they don’t need it, however his assistant came to him and asked if he could simply work for minimum wage to shadow Vincent while he was styling people’s hair. Vincent agreed and is paying his assistant 12$. He started by paying him 8$ an hour because it was before they raised the minimum wage, however the assistant has done good work and Vincent has naturally raised his wage to 11$ in just a couple of month.

Achan, or Vincent Chan has not only survived the economic recession but has thrived and established a loyal customer base ranging from the southern ends of Orange Country to the northern tips of Los Angeles County.

Leisure Time

A good measure of how the economy is doing, or an economic indicator, is what people do in their free time. For this blog post I chose the topic of video games, specifically E3. E3 is one of the biggest video game conferences in the United States where huge companies like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony make announcements about their new gaming systems.  In today’s economy, video games make money at a much quicker rate movies do. “Grant Theft Auto V, by Rockstar Games  make $800 million in its first 24 hours,” quoted by Anya Kamenetz, a blog post writer from Fast Company. Many people assume Hollywood is the biggest entertainment industry in terms of making money for California. However, video games are the silent winner that many people overlook.

In 2012, Activision, the major video game company that created Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, revealed that it had hit $1 billion dollars in sales in just 15 days. The top grossing movie of all time, “Avatar, took two days longer to earn the same amount” (Kamenetz).

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 12.08.08 PM

This graph shows the sales of video games from 2012 compared to the 2013. Looking closely one can see that at their peaks in December, sales from 2012 to 2013 have grown from $3.21 billion to $3.28 billion. Holiday season is the time when children know they can ask for the biggest present from the parents, so naturally the sales of video games in December greatly exceed the sale of video games any other time. If you look again at the graph, the points in the year of 2013 are slightly higher than the points from 2012, a clear economic indicator that the U.S. economy is steadily growing.

A convention that happens every year in the heart of Los Angeles is E3, home to one of the biggest video game, tech, and gadget shows. Polygon, one of the leading American websites online that informs its viewers about video game’s news, culture, and reviews, reported that some 48,000 people attended E3 this year, that’s 1.5% more people within the Los Angeles Conference Center than there was last year, a clear economic indicator that Los Angeles is not doing too bad for itself. Measuring an increase in video game purchases from year to year could be a good economic indicator; however having individuals wait hours in line just to go to a convention to hear when exactly the video games will come out e should reveal that the economy is doing well enough for individuals to sacrifice work time to attend this event.


More simply, people not only have the free time to play video games, but they also have the free time to spend money on tickets to the event. If the economy was not doing so well, individuals  Video gaming is one of the biggest chunks of entertainment-related sales, so naturally using it as an economic indicate whether our economy is progressing or regressing.


Nick Wu