Murata cheerleader robots: stability, sensing, synchronized dance – waiting for open innovation and APIs?

Murata cheerleader robots demonstrate stability (balancing bodies on spheres), sensing, and synchronized dance. However, limited by closed system

Murata and its robots

Murata introduced their newest Cheerleader robots in a press event on September 25, 2014 in Tokyo.
Purpose of the robots is brand building and advertising of the company’s components and capabilities.

Watch the Cheerleader robots dance synchronously here:

Murata Manufacturing (村田製作所)

While Japan’s eight electronics conglomerates stagnate in both revenues and income for the last 15 years, many of Japan’s electronic component manufacturers are thriving, as explained in detail in our report on Japan’s Electronics industries.

It is maybe not a coincidence, that many of the most successful electronics manufacturers are located in Kyoto, including Murata Manufacturing (村田製作所) – away from the politics of Tokyo.

Ceramic capacitors are at the core

At the core of the business are monolithic ceramic capacitors with a 35% market share globally. A single typical smartphone includes about 700 such ceramic capacitors, a laptop computer about 800, and a tablet computer or TV set about 600, and a car about 200.

Overcoming commoditization and maintaining pricing power by achieving overwhelming global market shares

For most manufactured electronic components, Murata is able to achieve overwhelming global market shares, e.g. 35% for monolithic ceramic capacitors, 70% for ceramic filters and resonators, 60% for radio connectivity modules and 95% for shock sensors.

Globalization

While company culture is strongly determined by Kyoto entrepreneurial traditions, Murata has 14 companies in USA, 13 companies in Europe, 27 companies in Greater China, 17 companies in the rest of Asia, and 30 companies in Japan. For our detailed analysis and comparison with other Japanese electronics companies, read our report on Japan’s Electronics industries.

Cheerleader robots highlight components and communication modules and “3S” competence: Stabilization, Sensing and Synchronization

Cheerleaders robots are a group of robots, bodies are balancing on rolling balls, and their bodies are equipped with motors to drive the balls, position and balance sensors and communication modules to synchronize the robots’ motion.

Murata “3S”: Stabilization, Sensing and Synchronization

Murata cheerleader robots dance in sync
Murata cheerleader robots dance in sync
Yuichi Kojima, Senior Vice-President and Deputy Director of Technology and Business Development Unit, and Koichi Yoshikawa, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications present the robots
Yuichi Kojima, Senior Vice-President and Deputy Director of Technology and Business Development Unit, and Koichi Yoshikawa, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications present the robots
Murata Boy, Girl and the Cheerleader robots
Murata Boy (ムラタセイサク君 = Muratseisaku-kun), the Murata Cheerleaders, and Murata Girl (ムラタセイコちゃん= Murataseiko-chan) (left to right)
Yuichi Kojima, Koichi Yoshikawa, Murata Boy, Murata Girl, and the Murata Cheerleader Robots
Yuichi Kojima (Senior Vice-President and Deputy Director of Technology and Business Development Unit) and Koichi Yoshikawa (Senior Manager, Corporate Communications) present Murata Boy (ムラタセイサク君 = Murataseisaku-kun), the Murata Cheerleaders, and Murata Girl (ムラタセイコちゃん= Murataseiko-chan) (left to right)

The bigger picture: Murata’s robots, the big wide world, and open innovation

As presented by Murata today, the cheerleader robots, Murata Boy and Murata Girl, are closed stand-alone systems, essentially for advertising and branding the company’s products.

SoftBank, on the other hand, is working to create a developer community around its Pepper robot, and SoftBank’s SPRINT subsidiary is planning to sell Pepper in the USA from 2015. Pepper has been developed for SoftBank by the company Aldebaran, founded by Bruno Maisonnier.

Google has acquired a range of robot companies, and is developing self driving cars.

In the USA, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is driving competition to develop robots.

iRobot has a program for developers.

LEGO switched from a closed “waterfall” model for developing the LEGO Mindstorms system to an open innovation model with huge success.

There is a huge contrast between these robotics programs which are community based, aim to create developer communities, develop API’s (application develop interfaces) and in some cases use open source software – and on the other hand the Murata robotics program, which seems to be a closed program creating one-off closed robot systems.

I believe that Murata’s robots could create much more global impact, if they would move from a corporate branding exercise to a platform for developer communities. In my view, Murata’s Cheerleaders – if they could talk – might shout out for being opened up. Imagine the creativity which could emerge from school classes or students programming the Cheerleaders via their APIs or SDKs.

Copyright·©2014 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

ApplePay vs Osaifu-Keitai – CNBC interview

Apple Pay vs Osaifu keitai - why Japan cannot capture global value from developing advanced technologies and business models

ApplePay is expected to start in October 2014 – Docomo’s Osaifu-keitai wallet phones started on July 10, 2004.

Mobile payments Japan, e-money and mobile credit (200 pages, pdf file):
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In business the first-comer does not always win the game

Japan’s NTT-Docomo tested two types of wallet phones, manufactured by Panasonic and SONY with 5000 customers between December 2003 and June 2004, and introduced mobile payments and wallet phones on July 10, 2004 – over 10 years ago.

ApplePay therefore could be developed based on over 10 years of experience with mobile payments in Japan. ApplePay is expected to be introduced for the USA market in October 2014, and we can expect Apple to introduce ApplePay to other markets including Japan in due course.

It will be particularly interesting to see how ApplePay and the already established mobile payment and NFC payment ecosystems in Japan will integrate.

For detailed analysis read our reports:

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Apple Pay vs Japan’s Osaifu-keitai – the precursor to Apple Pay

Mobile Payment Forum and Eurotechnology Japan KK jointly organize the Mobile Payment Forum meeting in Tokyo

What can we learn from 10+ years of mobile payments in Japan?

Apple Pay vs Japan’s Osaifu-Keitai: watch the interview on CNBC

Mobile payments Japan, e-money and mobile credit (200 pages, pdf file):
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Japan’s Osaifu keitai mobile payments started on July 10, 2004, after public testing during December 2003 – June 2004

Two different types of Docomo‘s “Osaifu-Keitai“, manufactured by Panasonic and by SONY, were publicly tested by 5000 customers between December 2003 – June 2004. Docomo’s Oseifu keitai mobile payment system builds on SUICA NFC stored fare cards, which JR-East brought to market in Tokyo on November 18, 2001, after long years of development and public testing, where the author of this newsletter was one of the testers.

Apple-Pay was developed building on almost 15 years of NFC payments in high volumes in Japan

Therefore, those who wish to make predictions about how the Apple-Pay market is likely to develop can use the experience gained during 15 years in Japan.

There are also some open questions, which will probably be answered after we can all check out Apple-Pay after September 19, 2014. One point which is very important is the speed of transactions – especially in transport applications such as the London or Tokyo Subways – read about this in the next section of this newsletter below.

Read more below, and in our reports on mobile payments and electronic money in Japan:

The speed of NFC mobile payments – and why does it take 10 years to reinvent the wheel?
and: what is the speed of Apple-Pay transactions?
faster than 100 milliSeconds? or 500+ milliSeconds?

On July 17, 2012 The Wallstreet Journal reported, that as far as Transport for London is concerned, there is no viable mobile payment solution available at this time, because to the knowledge of Transport for London at that time, mobile payment transactions take longer than 500 milli-seconds, which is too slow for Transport for London requirements (e.g at Picadilly station during the rush hour).

Interestingly, in Japan “mobile SUICA” payments have been used in Tokyo successfully since January 28, 2006 at the world’s busiest railway stations including Shinjuku and Shibuya – arguably more busy than Piccadilly Circus in rush hour, with transaction speeds faster than 100 milli-seconds – according to The Wallstreet Journal, London Transport did not even know about this.

Read in more detail about this issue in our blog here: “Mobile payments: 10 years to reinvent the wheel?

Therefore one obvious question we have about Apple-Pay is whether the speed of Apple-Pay transactions is in the 500+ milli-second range – unacceptable for Transport for London, or faster than 100 milli-seconds – as is Tokyo’s state of the art since January 28, 2006…
I guess we will soon learn the answer to this question.

Why is it that Japan does not capture the global value which Apple and Apple-Developers will create and capture now?

Japan developed mobile payments, e-cash, credit cards in mobile phones and at least as much functionality as Apple-Pay and an open API and a mobile payment and e-cash developer ecosystem over the last 10-15 years.

Why does Japan leave all the global value on the table for Apple and Apple developers?

Actually, I personally had discussions over the last 15 years will all major players in Japan’s mobile payment and e-cash field, crowned by 1-1 discussions with Docomo’s CEO at that time – Dr. Tachikawa – I wrote about one of these meetings in The Wallstreet Journal, of course without mentioning the details: “Wallstreet Journal leadership question of the week – Japanese leadership“.

Essentially my conclusion at that time, and today is, that Japanese companies never showed any interest at all in developing global business to capture the global value of mobile payments, e-cash and the related businesses. Japanese companies did not even try, and were not even interested in discussing the globalization of mobile payment and e-cash technologies and business models.

You can read about Japan’s Galapagos issues here:

All opportunities are not lost of course for Japanese companies in the mobile payments and e-cash fields, but most if not all of Japan’s early-mover advantage has evaporated with Apple-Pay.

In business, sometimes the second or third mover can be commercially more successful than the first mover, and it will be very very hard even for a united Japan Inc to stand up to Apple.

Apple Pay vs Japan’s Osaifu-Keitai: watch the interview on CNBC

Mobile payments Japan, e-money and mobile credit (200 pages, pdf file):
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EU Japan management: what is the value of good management in Japan?

EU Japan management: what is the value of good management in Japan?

EU direct foreign investment into Japan could be 56% higher!

With improved management skills, EU owned business in Japan could be at least € 50 billion high than it is today

Many companies would wish to have a larger business in Japan, and generally the overall amount of direct EU investment in Japan is considered low. We show below that the value of EU investments in Japan could be at least € 50 billion higher than they are today, if some decisions had been taken differently.

We found a way to measure the value of management skills!

We analyzed the EUROSTAT data for direct investments between Japan and EU, and combining the EUROSTAT data with stock market capitalization data of relevant public companies we found a way estimate the value of management skills and management decisions in the EU-Japan direct investment field!

EU Japan management: EU direct investment in Japan is totals about €90 billion. If all  acquisitions of Japanese companies by EU companies had been successful, the total could be €50 billion higher.

The figure above shows the EUROSTAT data for direct investment by EU companies in Japan and vice-versa:

  • the combined total of Japanese direct investment stock in EU (i.e. the acquisition of EU based companies by Japanese companies) in 2012 was about € 152.1 billion,
  • while the combined total of EU investment stock in Japan (i.e. the acquisition of Japanese companies by EU companies) in 2012 was about € 87.5 billion – substantially lower.

The fact of a relatively low EU investment stock is often superficially explained by “Japan is a closed country”, “cultural differences”, “low profitability in Japan”, “Japan is unattractive for foreign investment” etc.

Actually, the figure above shows, that if Vodafone would have been successful in managing Japan Telecom, that Vodafone had acquired, and if Daimler would have been successful in managing Mitsubishi Motors that Daimler had acquired, total EU investment stock in Japan would be at least € 50 billion higher than it is today.

How do we arrive at this estimation?

Mitsubishi Motors value today

Determining the value of Mitsubishi Motors today is straight forward. Mitsubishi Motors is a public company, traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Securities Code 7211), and as of September 10, 2014, the market capitalization is YEN 1197 Billion = € 8.8 billion. If Daimler would have successfully managed Mitsubishi Motors Daimler would today own Mitsubishi Motors with a valuation of € 8.8 billion, and potentially even higher because of synergies.

Estimating the value of Vodafone’s acquisitions in Japan, had it been successful

Estimating the value of the companies Vodafone would own today in Japan, had it been successful in managing the company Japan Telecom it had acquired is more complex.

Essentially Vodafone acquired Japan’s 2nd largest full-service fix-net, internet, data-center and mobile general telecom operating company Japan Telecom (which had been built on railway rights of way, and had been majority owned by Japanese railway companies, before Vodafone acquired Japan Telecom). In about 30 or more separate investment banking transactions (which made investment bankers very happy), Vodafone acquired Japan Telecom, then split the company into several parts, and all parts in the end are today owned by SoftBank. The major transaction was the sale of Vodafone KK to SoftBank, however in total there were about 30 or more transactions.

As of today (September 10, 2014), there are three general telecom operating companies in Japan’s telecom market:

  • NTT Group, (Tokyo Stock Exchange Code 9432), market cap YEN 8025 billion = € 58 billion
    • NTT-Docomo (Tokyo Stock Exchange Code 9437), market cap YEN 8128 billion = € 59 billion
    • NTT-East
    • NTT-West
    • NTT-Communications
    • NTT-Data
    • and 100s more subsidiaries
  • KDDI: (Tokyo Stock Exchange Code 9433), market cap YEN 5655 billion = € 41 billion
  • SoftBank: (Tokyo Stock Exchange Code 9984), market cap YEN 9545 billion = € 69 billion

Therefore, if Vodafone would have succeeded in managing the company Japan Telecom it had acquired, it can be expected that a fictitious “Vodafone-Japan 2014” today would have a market value on the order of somewhere in the range between € 40 billion (KDDI) and € 70 billion (SoftBank). Now, since Vodafone – if it would have been successful and continued to develop successfully until this day in Japan, would not have the Alibaba and Yahoo-Japan, and 1500 other investments that SoftBank owns, nor the dominating market share that Docomo owns in Japan, we can assume that a fictitious “Vodafone-Japan 2014” would have a valuation similar to the one KDDI has today. Thus we conclude that Vodafone if it had been successful in managing Japan Telecom, would today own a business in Japan worth about € 40 billion.

Of course there are many more companies than Vodafone and Mitsubishi-Motors & Daimler, but because of their enormous size, in terms of statistics these companies totally dominate the overall statistics.

Estimating the value of Japan management know-how: € 50 billion in the case of Vodafone and Mitsubishi Motors/Daimler

We argue now, that if Daimler would have known how to manage Mitsubishi Motors correctly, and if Vodafone would have known how to manage Japan Telecom correctly, then today this knowledge would have created value of about € 50 billion in Japan, and the EU investment stock in Japan would be about € 50 billion (56%) higher than it is today.

The pitfalls and traps facing EU companies over managing Japanese companies

Foreign companies doing business in Japan face a number of dilemmas. Maybe the biggest dilemma is a situation which arises, when there is no Japan know-how represented on the Board of Directors of the mother company. This was the case for Vodafone, and it took Vodafone’s CEO and Board of Directors several years to realize that Japan Telecom could not be managed with the same “standard global management methods” as in all other markets. At that time, when Vodafone’s global CEO realized that “Japan is special”, Vodafone removed Vodafone-Japan from reporting to a Singapore-based Asia-GM, and moved Vodafone-Japan to report directly to the CEO, however this was only of many other problems, and also came far too late. NOKIA’s NSN also made a similar move years later, fortunately not too late. Read here for a more detailed discussion of the Vodafone-Japan case.

Another dilemma regularly arises about the management and governance structure of foreign subsidiaries in Japan. There are 100s of ways of organizing the management of foreign subsidiaries in Japan, and “cookie-cutter” approaches usually fail.

There are many more dilemmas, and this article shows, that solving these dilemmas correctly is worth many billion Dollars/Euros in the case of large corporations, and of course also of substantial value for small corporations and venture startups.

With better Japan management know-how, the EU investment stock in Japan could be at least € 50 billion higher:

EU Japan management: EU owned business in Japan could be at least € 50 billion higher with improved management

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