Editor’s note: Outlook is CNN's in-depth look at business climates around the world. To August 12, 2012, we’re focusing on Singapore.
Singapore (CNN ) – At less than 700 square kilometers and fewer than 6 million people, the city-state of Singapore may be one of Asia’s smallest countries, yet its economic influence far outstrips its size. Next week, CNN will be focusing on Singapore for a special week of coverage in this blog and on TV.
The country is a global hub for exports, a financial capital and an increasingly popular tourism destination. Its GDP per capita, nearly $50,000, is one of the world’s highest, on par with the most developed countries in Europe.
That’s quite an achievement for what was a poor, undeveloped British colony just 50 years ago. The per capita GDP in 1961 was just $1,136. Author Michael Schuman writes in his book “The Miracle,” that “Singapore’s transformation from down-and-out tropical outpost to vibrant metropolis of international stature is one of the great tales of the [Asian Economic] Miracle.”
HONG KONG - For Yin Ho, fame was instantaneous.
The first in line, Ho was mobbed Friday by the hordes of press covering the launch of the iPhone 3G here in Hong Kong. And he was enjoying the glory, posing with an enormous grin for the camera, first with a sample phone, then with his own precious handset.
Hong Kong did not have the queues of Japan or the United States. Carrier Hutchison Telecom had an online lottery to pick the first 500 customers to receive the iPhone. More than 60,000 applied. New iPhones were also given to select friends and loyal customers of the company.
Officially, the new iPhone 3G is the first to be released in Hong Kong. In reality, the original iPhone is everywhere, brought over from the United States or Western Europe and unlocked to run on networks other than Apple's approved service providers. Many of the customers in line for the new phone on Friday proudly showed me their original models. The taxi driver who took us to the launch this morning even had one on his dash.
Critics might complain about the new iPhone's price plans, battery life or features that don't measure up against existing phones on the market in Asia. For the die-hard iPhone fans online this morning in Hong Kong, none of that mattered. They wanted the new phone, for status, for the new features, for its style. And they wanted to tell all their friends they had it first.
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