SoftBank turnaround program for Vodafone-Japan

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SoftBank acquires Vodafone’s Japan operations, announces turnaround strategy

SoftBank turnaround for Vodafone-Japan: Focus on customer service and increased investments

SoftBank has acquired Vodafone-Japan (Vodafone KK) and will change the name to SoftBank Mobile.

SoftBank‘s alliance with APPLE to develop iPod-mobile phones is the latest in a string of actions to take the former J-Phone back onto the growth track before Vodafone acquired it. One day after announcing the acquisition, SoftBank announced a target of 26 million subscribers (compared to today’s 15 million).

SoftBank turnaround: five point strategy to turn around Vodafone-Japan

A few days after acquiring Vodafone-Japan, SoftBank announced a five point SoftBank turnaround program for Vodafone Japan, which is now well on-track:

1. Continued use of mail addresses:

SoftBank has learnt from Vodafone that it does not pay to force 15 million subscribers and all their friends and acquaintances to change email addresses …

2. Strengthen the shops and customer service:

SoftBank is reversing Vodafone’s store strategy – SoftBank has started to recruit full-time regular employees for it’s stores, and plans to sell APPLE products and iPod phones in the stores.

3. Rebranding – Change to an easy-to-understand and familiar company name:

The brand “Vodafone” will be replaced by SoftBank Mobile.

4. Stepping up capital investment:

On Friday April 21, 2006, SoftBank announced the decision to increase the investments to YEN 250 billion to increase the number of 3G base stations from 20,000 to 30,000. This is a reversal of Vodafone’s initial strategy to dramatically cut investments in Japan during it’s ownership of J-Phone/Vodafone KK (for graphics of investment data by Japan’s operators see our blog)

5. Synergies with SoftBank BB, Japan Telecom and YAHOO:

Softbank now reunites the former Japan Telecom – which Softbank has acquired in two steps from Vodafone. First Vodafone acquired the fixed line operations via Ripplewood and now the former mobile subsidiary of Japan Telecom from Vodafone. Synergies between YAHOO-Japan and SoftBank’s new mobile operations are particularly interesting and promising – think mobile auctions… now SoftBank is moving further into eBay’s territory in Japan, or what is eBay’s territory anywhere else in the world, except in Japan.

More details: JCOMM report

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iPod mobile phones for Japan?

SoftBank and Masayoshi Son

According the headline report in Nihon Keizai Shinbun (the world’s largest business daily) on Saturday May 13th, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs and SoftBank’s Chairman Masayoshi Son met recently, and are developing a joint mobile phone with iPod and iTunes functions.

On March 17 SoftBank announced the full acquisition of Vodafone’s Japan subsidiary – the former J-Phone. Thus SoftBank has acquired a 20% piece of the global Vodafone-Group, propelling SoftBank into the global top-league of telecom players. Within a few days SoftBank announced a string of actions to bring the former J-Phone back onto it’s former growth track. Read below – and read a detailed analysis of the APPLE/SoftBank cooperation in today’s May 15 version of our Mobile Music report.

Is it pure coincidence that DoCoMo and Microsoft announced a music cooperation just one or two days before the APPLE/SoftBank iPod cooperation made headlines?

Apple/SoftBank iPod mobile phones have the potential to:

  • revolutionize Japan’s mobile phone market
  • accelerate the shift of the music industry’s business model from CDROM sales to mobile music for mobile phones
  • make APPLE a global mobile phone handset brand in the NOKIA league
  • put pressure on DoCoMo which has been falling behind in the mobile music sector
  • enable Vodafone to offer Softbank/APPLE/Vodafone/iPod phones globally via Vodafone’s recently announced Softbank joint venture for handset development

Implications of an Apple/SoftBank iPod mobile phone

  • Revolutionize Japan’s music business landscape: about 20% of Japan’s music sales are to mobile phones, while internet music downloads are almost neglibile in comparison. Therefore iTunes cannot have much impact in Japan if limited to internet downloads. iTunes downloads to mobile phones will change the business models of Japan’s music industry.

    • SoftBank could leapfrog DoCoMo which is already about 1-2 years behind KDDI/AU in the mobile music arena.
    • iTunes pricing is far below established mobile phone music prices in Japan
  • Pressure on DoCoMo and KDDI/AU: Success of an iTunes/SoftBank mobile phone will put strong pressure on DoCoMo and KDDI/AU: a “must have” iPod mobile phone can be a huge advantage for SoftBank when number portability arrives this autumn.
  • Global impact: Success of an APPLE/SoftBank phone could put APPLE on track towards a global mobile phone brand competing with the NOKIA’s of this world
  • Impact on Apple: APPLE could leverage it’s design power, it’s user interface principles, and brand power into BOTH the mobile phone space (globally), and the mobile music distribution space
  • Impact on global mobile phone business landscape: APPLE could become the challenger in the global mobile phone handset landscape

download latest version of our Mobile Music Japan report (includes analysis of iPod/SoftBank phones)

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

30 Swedish Controllers / CFO’s

April 24, 2006 was my Swedish Day: for breakfast I was invited to IKEA’s opening party for their new store in Funabashi (I met even with the global Chairman of IKEA – that he attended the opening in Funabashi shows how seriously IKEA is taken the market entry to Japan) – we had done some IT work for IKEA.

Lunch and afternoon I spent with about 30 Swedish CFO’s / controllers of some of the largest Swedish corporations, who had come to Japan on a study tour. These CFO’s/Controllers were all working at companies in Investor AB’s portfolio, and the program was organized by Investor AB’s Corporate Academy Novare.

The Swedish controllers had asked for a briefing on Japan’s telecom industry. Some of their companies are considering to start, re-start, or grow faster in Japan, so there were many detailed questions about business in Japan, what can go wrong, personell issues, experience of other multinationals, and of course a lot of questions about IKEA and Vodafone.

My presentation was similar to the presentation I had given on March 23, 2006 to the Technology Attaches of the Embassies of the 25 European Union countries, which lead the European Union to award our company a project contract about EU vs Japan benchmarking issues in telecoms and key technology areas.

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

EU Government contract awarded: benchmarking broadband in EU vs Japan

As a consequence of our CEO’s briefing entitled “Why Japan is several years ahead of Europe in telecommunications and what Europe can do to catch up” on March 23, 2006 for the Technology Attaches of the Embassies of the 25 European Union countries here in Tokyo our company has been awarded a project contract by the Government of the European Union to examine EU vs Japan benchmarking issues in telecommunications and related key technology areas.

Read an updated report of Japan’s broadband market, ADSL and FTTH here: Eurotechnology Japan Report on Japan’s telecom sector.

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·