In pursuit of quality

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One of the favorite sayings of the new generation of global Russians is ,"Speak English, dress Italian, drive German, kiss French, be Russian." In spite of the fact that, like the rest of our global village, we have to replace some of these with "Chinese," the passion of Russians for having the best of everything cannot be overestimated. 

When the Apple iPhone first appeared on the market, before anybody could predict that it would capture one-third of the mobile market in most developed countries, Russians created one of the biggest "gray" markets of iPhones in the world, carrying them in suitcases from the United States and Europe. The first iPhone has yet to be officially sold in Russia, but three months after the launch in 2007, analysts estimated that there were at least 400,000 Apple handsets in our country. And four years later, a Russian man was the first to get the shiny iPad 2 after standing in a long long line on Fifth Avenue in New York. This is only one sign of Russian passion for the best products.

But it wasn't always like that. In the Soviet Union, people didn't have foreign products because tyrannical Soviet leaders wouldn't allow them to leave the country. A few Soviet products were known for their unique mix of Constructivist design and pragmatism, but many were the butt of jokes - like the water dispenser with a single glass cup for all. Unfortunately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a lot of production lines in Russia were stopped. And now we have to start most of them from scratch.

This work has already started. Despite not having a decent Russian make of car, decent Russian computer brand and decent Russian soccer team (the worst of all!), we have become one of the world leaders in making sophisticated industrial lasers (IPG Photonics), anti-virus software (Kaspersky lab), nano-microscopes (NT-MDT), optical character recognition systems (ABBYY software) and so on.

To make people's lives easier, we have to start producing everyday products of good quality. And Russians can't believe in the quality of domestically produced products. Russian advertising is rife with phrases like, "German quality," "Italian style" or "American traditions" labels. It will be tough to overcome the stereotype that Russian products equal bad quality in the minds of Russians, let alone in the minds of foreigners. 

But the mission is not impossible.

My dream is to dress Russian, drive Russian, eat Russian and have an "iRussianPhone" without feeling that it's lacking the quality of foreign products. In order to change something, you have to start with yourself. 

Young global Russians should WANT to have everything the best, and we should also hope to MAKE everything the best. 

Vsevolod Pulya is executive editor of online content at Russia Beyond the Headlines and a graduate student in the journalism department of Moscow State University studying sociology and convergence journalism. 


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