Apparently no-one in business is immune from the innovation imperative these days, and one must be seen to be creating the conditions for innovation, if not actually being innovative — yet it’s one of those words that have been bleached of practically all meaning through overuse. Still, there’s an important cultural battle going on regarding what innovation is and who possesses it.
Tencent QQ, China’s most popular instant messaging company, has recently launched an online experimental space called QQ Labs QQ实验室. QQ Labs describes itself as a platform for displaying the latest innovative products coming out of Tencent QQ, and for demonstrating the “innovation culture” of the company. From a QQ Labs blog post, “What exactly is QQ Labs?” :
…quite a few people believe that in terms of innovation spirit, Chinese enterprises are far behind their European and American counterparts. Despite a measure of truth in this, based on the conversations [this writer] has had with Internet businesspeople outside of China, some people also believe that Chinese Internet enterprises have done even better than European or American ones in some respects. For instance, Tencent is the only company that has established a successful business based on an IM service.
QQ Labs’ current innovative product? QQVideo, a…video sharing site. (It will be interesting to see how the Google/YouTube position plays out in China.)