Open vs. closed environment
Gao makes the obvious comparison to Apple, which has fewer adaptation
problems because all its devices are designed to work in the closed
"Our goal is to make this work in an
open-system environment. And we need to make sure that this experience
[using μPad] will satisfy most people," said Gao. At the moment, Apexone
has 1,000 customers in China testing μPad for its user experience.
out all the necessary components in a very thin layer was another
challenge. Gao said that Apexone hired away a couple of engineers from
an unnamed company that reportedly developed a 6.2mm thick smartphone
While Gao did not name the company, ZTE's new
smartphone, codenamed Athena, has been teased in a series of snaps on
China's Sina Weibo social network (the Chinese version of Twitter) as
the "world's thinnest smartphone." It will essentially make the 6.68mm
Huawei Ascend P1 S look bloated by comparison. ZTE isn't talking about
the Athena's detailed specs, but the company has revealed that it will
feature a 720p display, multi-core Cortex-A15 processor and Android 4.0
Ice Cream Sandwich, with up to 64GB of storage.
While becoming a
$1 billion chip company is a well-stated goal for many China fablesses,
Gao said that he doesn't see this as his endgame.
What if kids in
China, not just his own 13-year old daughter and 6-year old son -- who
both attend the Shanghai American School, originally with iPads and MacBook Pros, and now are already avid users
of μPad -- but kids living in far-flung cities and rural areas, get a
Forget one laptop per child. Gao can make his dream, of
accomplishing something that changes people's quality of life, come
Even when he left China in 1991 to get his master's degree
and build his work experience in the United States, Gao said he knew he
would eventually go back to China to run his own business and do things
that matter. After his last U.S. job (founding GlobeSpan's design center
in San Diego), Gao returned to China in 2002. Ever since, his sights
have been set on the progress of the human interface. While many
industry observers suggest that "touch" has already replaced the mouse,
Gao demurs. "A lot of people don't even realize that an optical sensor
is used in the trackball on a smart phone." Further, Gao envisions a
time when "optical gesture" will dominate the human interface. Optical
gesture should be able to add mouse-like accuracy to gestures. "Much
better than touch," said Gao.
Does Gao ever lose sleep worrying that his μPad might get copied, with millions of μPad knock-offs cluttering the market?
really, he said. One of the secret sources in his μPad is Apexone’s
optication navigation chip. What separates Apexone from other typical
China startups is its command of a host of patents. Gao holds twenty-six
U.S. and international patents, with another ten pending patents. So,
go ahead, pirates. Try and rip off James Gao.
Make his day.
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