Masahiro Morimoto, entrepreneur, CEO and Chairman of the Board, UBIC Inc. (today: Fronteo) A discussion with Dr. Gerhard Fasol

Masahiro Morimoto, entrepreneur, CEO and Chairman of the Board, UBIC Inc. (today: Fronteo)

UBIC Inc (today: Fronteo): founded to curb huge losses of Japanese corporations due to litigation abroad

A discussion between UBIC (today: Fronteo) CEO Masahiro Morimoto and Dr. Gerhard Fasol

From Japanese/Chinese/Korean (CJK) e-discovery, to data forensics, virtual data scientist and predictive coding

Masahiro Morimoto founded UBIC Inc. on August 8, 2003 to stem the huge losses he saw Japanese corporations incurring due to litigation abroad. English-only software cannot be used for e-discovery of documents in Japanese, Chinese or Korean, and UBIC Inc initially focused on e-Discovery for these double-byte languages. Today, UBIC has grown beyond CJK e-discovery, into applying artificial intelligence tools to predict human behavior from emails and social media, forensics and other fields. Cloud based services are increasing rapidly. Recently, UBIC acquired the US e-discovery company TechLaw Solutions, expanding US business.

UBIC was founded on August 8, 2003
Traded on:
Tokyo Stock Exchange (Code 2158), IPO on November 6, 2007
NASDAQ (Symbol UBIC), IPO on May 16, 2013

UBIC Inc. Financial Data for the Financial Year 2014

(ended March 31, 2015, $1=119.96yen)
Revenues: YEN 6274 million (US $52.3 million)
Operating income: YEN 266 million (US$ 2.2 million)
Net income: YEN 260 million (US$ 2.1 million)

Market capitalization: YEN 33.25 billion ($276 million) ($1=120.17)

Note: on July 1, 2016 the company name was changed from UBIC to FRONTEO.

Discussion between Mr Masahiro Morimoto, CEO and Chairman of the Board, UBIC Inc. (today: Fronteo) and Dr. Gerhard Fasol

  1. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): You announced your most recent financial results on May 13, 2015. Could you kindly give us some of the highlights and some comments?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): For UBIC, the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2015, was memorable for three main reasons:

    1. First, we successfully acquired TechLaw Solutions, a well-established US e-discovery company.
    2. Second, we launched Lit i View EMAIL AUDITOR, a product powered by our proprietary AI program. 
    3. And third, we have promoted several innovative projects with business partners.

    It was not by luck alone that UBIC achieved record high revenue, but as a result of great effort. We achieved both organic and inorganic growth. Our company is entering a new era now.

  2. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): The core of your business is e-discovery with special focus on Asian languages. Can you tell us more about the current state of the e-discovery market, your competitive advantage, and how you can assist your clients?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): Our strength lies in operations that enable us to integrate and manage data within Japan. This is of particular value to the increasing number of Asian companies that do not want their highly confidential data to leave the country. At the same time, we provide an end-to-end, full e-discovery service. Our high level technology has enabled us to develop our own e-discovery reviewing tool, Lit i View.
    Further, our document review services in Asian languages including Japanese that use Predictive Coding, our proprietary AI technology developed by the in-house team, can cut costs while improving the quality of reviews, which can account for up to 70% of discovery costs.
    Lastly, our consultants and project managers can help in bridging any gap there might be between Asian companies and US attorneys, so that complex matters and projects may proceed smoothly for both sides.

  3. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): I understand that most of your work is ultra-confidential, since your work is in the field of data security. However, could you tell us about one or two successes so we can get an idea of how UBIC is able to help clients, and the reason they like working with you.

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): One of our customers, which regularly faces cases filed by non-practicing entities (NPEs) in the US, was able to reduce their e-discovery costs by up to 40% by utilizing our services based on our proprietary AI technology. We have heard that achievement garnered a special company award.
    (Note added by Gerhard Fasol: NPE’s are often nicknamed “patent trolls”).

  4. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): I understand that your core product is Lit i View. Can you explain the main characteristics of this electronic data analysis platform, and tell us why it is so important for your customers?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): Currently in Lit i View, we have three types of products.

    1. First, Lit i View E-DISCOVERY, which is an e-discovery support product;
    2. second Lit i View XAMINER, a digital forensics tool; and
    3. third the Lit i View EMAIL AUDITOR, our email auditing tool.

    The feature that these three products have in common and which is unique is that they are equipped with Virtual Data Scientist (VDS), UBIC’s AI software, which enables them to analyze big data.
    Furthermore, Lit i View fully supports data in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and accurately displays multi-byte characters. In contrast, conventional e-discovery tools developed in English-speaking countries cannot accurately process legal documents written in Asian languages or multi-byte characters, without experiencing problems such as garbling.
    Asian companies, which thus are at a disadvantage in terms of the e-discovery process, have found that Lit i View provides an effective solution to their problems. We are receiving very positive reviews from clients in Asian countries, who tell us that they truly need to use Lit i View for documents in Asian languages.
    For further information, see http://www.ubicliv.com/en

  5. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): Virtual Data Scientist (VDS) is important part of your business model, could you explain us about Virtual Data Scientist?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): At UBIC, we do not consider big data to be merely an accumulation of data, but a collection of people’s thoughts and behavior outcomes. We define behavioral informatics as an analytical interpretation of behavior, and the synthesis of information science (including statistics, mathematics, data mining, and pattern recognition) and behavioral science (including psychology, criminology, and sociology).
    Conventional approaches to big data merely analyze past incidents, from which they extract some facts. But, in behavioral informatics, we are able to predict the future, and we do so by basing our analytics on human cognition and by generating patterns of human and social behavior.
    The highly accurate Virtual Data Scientist software applies a behavioral informatics approach to analyzing big data, thereby making it possible for one to find whatever information is being sought.

  6. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): Predictive Coding is another concept for the basis of your business. Could you explain us Predictive Coding?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): Predictive coding is based on the concept of text mining and AI technology. When e-discovery uses predictive coding, our VDS software analyzes and emulates the e-discovery review sample produced by experienced attorneys, before carrying out the rest of e-discovery review processes. Our AI software not only applies e-discovery to the review of documents at a speed more than 4,000 times faster than that achievable by humans, but also avoids the wide discrepancy in review results that often result from human error. Furthermore, our AI software has proved to be more than 90% accurate in extracting information for e-discovery reviews. Although in litigation, e-discovery is the most expensive process, costs can be cut drastically with our AI. If people use our predictive coding in addition to conventional keyword searches, relevant legal documents will no longer be omitted as often happens when only keyword searches are conducted and keyword settings are misconfigured.

  7. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): Your cloud hosting services appear to be the most rapidly growing area of business, accounting for more than half your revenue. Can you explain what this means for you? Will all your services simply move to the Cloud, or are your Cloud services a new class of products? What benefits do your customers derive from using your Legal Cloud?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): Before answering your question, I would like to explain about our business and work flow of e-discovery. E-discovery has several steps such as identification, preservation, collection, processing, analysis, hosting, document review, and production. We charge for each of the steps. Hosting service is one of the steps of e-discovery, and its purpose is to store the data which has been loaded to the hosting server after collection, processing, analysis, and document review. Unlike the e-discovery process which only takes between one to twelve months to complete, hosting service usually lasts more than five years. One reason that the data which has been processed and reviewed by attorneys must be kept for a long time is that there is high possibility of reusing the data in case of multiple lawsuits and other issues for one particular case, for instance. Furthermore, these data are too valuable and expensive to discard since these data can be leveraged across multiple matters. These are the reasons why hosting revenue has been growing. It is a kind of recurrent revenue for us.
    To answer your question regarding whether we plan to move all our products to the Cloud: we will provide cloud solutions to our customers continuously. But, it depends on the customer and the market requirement. Although we must have cloud solutions to meet the market requirement, we provide all types of solutions such as cloud and on-premise products and services.

  8. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): When I discuss the Cloud with customers and friends, automatically almost the first question concerns security. How do you ensure the security of your Cloud services, and do you see this security as a business opportunity for your company?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): In our Intelligence Cloud Service, clients’ data are securely managed. First, only permitted users have access to restricted virtual desktops; second, we have secure communication networks; third, our communications system has a firewall; fourth, we employ VLAN-based logical separation for network segments; and fifth, we have disaster recovery centers for redundancy operations.
    Currently, our priorities do not include offering Cloud-related security business solutions, since our main business is not only offering Cloud services.

  9. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): I have two questions regarding your TechLaw Solutions acquisition.
    1. First, could you explain the reasons for the acquisition of this electronic discovery and litigation consultancy?
    2. And second, it is a fact that mergers involving US or EU companies on the one hand, and traditional Japanese companies on the other, are often difficult, and sometimes the two companies lead almost independent lives, without really integrating. That being the case, how are you overcoming cultural issues, and could you give some advice to companies undertaking Western-Japanese mergers? What are your key experiences and the conclusions you have drawn that might be applied to ensure successful Western-Japanese company mergers?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): In answer to the first part of your question, we acquired TechLaw Solutions – a US e-discovery consultancy and solutions provider that has been in business for more than 30 years – as part of our strategy to expand our e-discovery market share, with a view to giving ourselves a high-profile presence in the US. Since TechLaw Solutions already has developed a large number of sales channels, its acquisition has given us a unique opportunity to establish the UBIC brand in the US.
    Regarding the second part of the question, all companies have their own culture, so even companies with identical national backgrounds have different cultures. To ensure there are no cultural obstacles when companies merge, it is necessary to recognize and accept that differences exist. UBIC has always respected cultural diversity, and so does not perceive it to be a major challenge.
    Most important of all is the need to share clear, solid, and positive goals, and to clearly visualize the path to those goals. I accompanied members of the UBIC management team on a visit to TechLaw Solutions. We held a number of team meetings, during which I continued to make every effort to convey to them my thoughts, regarding what we expected would be the outcome of the acquisition, the degree to which I believed Techlaw Solutions could help UBIC grow, and the reason I had confidence in our technology.
    At the same time, I held one-on-one meetings with all key employees, and made sure that each of them was enthusiastic about their work and that they held values akin to those upheld by UBIC. Had there been no relationship of trust or the support that comes from sharing common goals, it would have been hard for the companies to merge successfully. But, once we found we had the same goals and could help each other, the cultural differences became non-issues.

  10. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): Your venture company is certainly one of the most successful, having grown rapidly into a global corporation that continues to expand. What are the main factors behind your success? Since improving conditions for the setting up of businesses is one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategies for Japan, based on your experience, how would you suggest conditions might be improved for entrepreneurs?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): One piece of advice regarding how to improve conditions for entrepreneurs concerns the Japanese education system. Schools should teach children, from a young age, about entrepreneurs and startups.
    Although the climate surrounding fundraising has improved, one critical drawback that Japanese entrepreneurs face is the difficulty in attracting smart, competent people to work for startups in Japan. In Silicon Valley, very competent new university graduates are eager to work for startups or small companies with less than five employees. They do not target Fortune 500 or well-known companies, or even companies such as Facebook or Twitter. In Japan, however, very competent students tend to want to work for big-name companies, rather than startups.
    Part of the problem is that we have not learned about startups and entrepreneurship, which makes it difficult for such businesses to attract young Japanese. For example, I used to be a public servant working for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) prior to working for Applied Materials Japan Inc. But then, having a specific goal that I wished to achieve, I set up my own company. Yet, even at that time, had I had the option of working for a startup, I would not have done so, because the concept of startups was so ill-defined.
    Our children need to be taught that there are any number of work possibilities, ranging from being a florist, an astronaut, an entrepreneur or an employee at a startup. We also should teach our children that working for a large company is not the only option. In Japan, we still believe that large, well-known companies are “safe,” “good,” and, thus, “socially acceptable.” It is interesting to note that, these days, even some of the big companies are setting up-within their organizations-business incubators.
    Japanese media have begun to mention startups and entrepreneurs, while some universities have launched incubator programs to draw students into this area of expertise. This is important, since the younger generations should be made aware that there are any number of ways in which they can utilize their skills.
    There are several reasons for UBIC’s success. One factor is that we are a strong team, committed to a goal. Whereas one person alone can achieve relatively little, a great team with members who empower each other and work together can achieve great things.
    A second reason is that we have a clear corporate mission which is shared by the team. Fortunately, it dovetails well with the current social environment. When we launched our e-discovery business, our mission was to provide secure and cost-effective solutions for Japanese and other Asian companies facing litigation. Based on our expertise in analyzing of huge volumes of litigation-related data in English and several Asian languages, we have been able to develop our behavior informatics analytical tool, which makes it possible to predict how people will think and act based on the human conditions and behavioral norms.
    A third factor behind our success is the strong commitment to working as a team. Our motto – “Enthusiasm, Persistence and Impression” – was chosen to motivate our team to persevere in committing to our shared mission.

  11. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): How did you finance the startup of UBIC? Did you accept venture capital? And what are your thoughts on the use of venture capital in Japan?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): I believe that, in Japan, the overall environment for venture capital has improved, but I did not use venture capital because, in those days, there was little understanding of the benefits of incubating startups over the long term; mostly, their objective was short-term investment for profit.
    As a result, when startups got support from venture capitalists, they had no choice but to make a profit by, for example, opening more stores than they may have thought prudent. The results, at times, were fortunate and I did not wish to have such constraints. I wanted to be able to manage my company with a long-term vision. Nowadays, however, one finds venture capital enterprises even in Japan that want to incubate companies with a long-term vision. The situation has improved immeasurably.

  12. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): You have started a number of new ventures in the medical field as well as the social networks. Can you tell about your vision for the future of UBIC?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): We would like to contribute to the creation of a better future for society through the application of information analysis. At the same time, we hope to introduce a new approach to behavior informatics, on the basis of our extensive experience in litigation support and the application of innovative technologies developed through our research.
    Currently, many businesses are providing solutions for big data analysis of human behavior. But the amount of big data is so huge, that it is difficult for people to conduct in-depth analyses. Generally, little more than average results are produced, without specific topic-related differentiation.
    Our AI technology, however, which has been developed by our legal technology specialists, closely emulates human ability and behavior. In addition, it replicates tacit knowledge: the wisdom, and intuition of experts. In other words, our technology can reproduce what is difficult to verbalize. As a result, we are able to analyze subtleties, sensitivities, and distinctive aspects of individuals, which can for example, form the basis of medical diagnosis and individual consumer behavior and preferences.
    Our vision is to provide AI-based solutions that enable each person to realize his or her individuality and potential in order to develop creativity at work and in other settings.

  13. Question (Dr. Gerhard Fasol): Can you tell us the reason you decided to become an entrepreneur and start UBIC? What is your advice to other entrepreneurs who wish to set up their own business in Japan, or globally?

    Answer (Masahiro Morimoto): Well, at first I had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur. But, I developed a strong sense that I had to do something for those Japanese companies that were incurring huge financial losses as a result of litigation abroad. At the time, there were not many forensic or e-discovery services in Japan that offered strong support. That was why, after having accumulated from scratch the know-how required to set up a company, I established my own enterprise. My mission today is to support companies worldwide with our AI, which can emulate experts’ behavior and apply their wisdom to that we can continue to come up with appropriate business solutions.
    My advice to entrepreneurs and people who want to set up their own company is to have a clear mission, and to commit to this with persistence and the support of a strong team.

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Smartphone games disrupt Japanese video game industry

Smartphone games disrupt Japanese game industry: 24 smartphone game companies achieve double the income of all traditional video game companies combined

24 new listed smartphone game companies achieve net income twice as high as all top 8 traditional video game companies combined

Its not just Nintendo being disrupted, its the whole Japanese video games industry

In the most recent version of our report on Japan’s game industry, we added 24 publicly listed new smartphone game companies (listed on the Mothers market or the second or first sections of the Tokyo Stock Exchange), and we also added not-yet-publicly-traded LINE, and we will add more in future editions.

Japan game market report (398 pages, pdf-file):
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There has been much media focus on Nintendo and how it is affected by the rise of smartphone freemium games, and how it will react. But our analysis shows that its not just Nintendo thats affected, but the whole traditional Japanese video game industry.

Smartphone games disrupt:

During financial year just ended, 24 publicly listed Japan’s smartphone game companies earned twice as much income as all top 8 traditional video game companies combined.

Combined net income in FY2014 (which for most companies ended on March 31, 2015) for 24 publicly listed Japanese new smartphone game companies is about YEN 200 billion (about US$ 2 billion), compared to a combined net income of about YEN 100 billion (about US$ 1 billion) for all top 8 traditional Japanese video game companies:

net income of Japan's top 8 traditional video game companies is about US$ 1 billion in FY2014
net income of Japan’s top 8 traditional video game companies is about US$ 1 billion in FY2014 (source: official company financial reports)
net income of 24 listed Japanese new smartphone game companies combined in FY2014 is about US$ 2 billion
net income of 24 listed Japanese new smartphone game companies combined in FY2014 is about US$ 2 billion (source: official company financial reports)

Japanese smartphone games have global impact and capture global value

Japanese smartphone game companies are in leading positions on global scale (Source: AppAnnie):

  • The globally No. 1 ranked top grossing company for iOS and Google-Play app stores combined is a Japanese company: LINE
  • 2 out of the top-10 top-grossing smartphone game companies globally (iOS plus Google-Play app stores combined) are Japanese companies
  • 5 out of the top-10 top-grossing apps globally (iOS plus Google-Play app stores combined) are Japanese apps

Learn more about Japan’s games industries

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Israeli Venture Fund Japan meeting in Tokyo March 4, 2014

Israeli VC in Tokyo

Start-up Nation Israel 2014 – Israel Japan Investment Funds meeting on March 4, 2014 at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo

Israeli Venture funds introduce Israeli ventures to Japanese investors

Acquisition of Viber by Rakuten draws attention in Japan to Israeli ventures

The recent acquisition of the Israel-based OTT (over the top) communications company Viber by Rakuten for US$ 900 Million has drawn attention in Japan to Israel’s innovative power, however many Japanese companies are already cautiously investing in Israel while keeping a low profile, we learnt at the “Start-up Nation Israel 2014” Israel Japan Investment Funds meeting on March 4, 2014 at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo.

Most of the companies presented at the conference were highly sophisticated computer security, medical equipment, and similar “mono zukuri” type ventures, but also included a “selfie” app for auto-portrait or group photos using iPad or iPhone.

By the way: our company is currently working to sell an Israeli venture company to Japan as an exit for investors, and to accelerate business development in Japan for this company.

Her Excellency, Ambassador of Israel to Japan, Ms Ruth Kahanoff opened the conference:

Her Excellency, The Ambassador of Israel to Japan, Ms Ruth Kahanoff
Her Excellency, The Ambassador of Israel to Japan, Ms Ruth Kahanoff

Economic Minister of Israel to Japan, Mr Eitan Kuperstoch explained that while there is substantial investment in Israel’s ventures by many major Japanese corporations, there is much scope for increases. Japan’s investment added together are on the order of 1% of foreign direct investments to Israel:

Economic Minister to Japan of Israel, Eitan Kuperstoch
Economic Minister to Japan of Israel, Eitan Kuperstoch

Pitches by Israeli Venture Funds

  • BRM Group: actually a privately held fund, strictly speaking not venture capital
  • Vertex Venture Capital: Japanese investments by Hitachi, Fujitsu, Murata, NTT-Soft, Muratec, Advantest, NTT-Finance, Nomura, SMBC, SII, JAFCO, SEIKO Electric, Monex, Toyo Ink Group, Aizawa Securities
  • CHIMA Ventures: medical devices, minimal invasive surgery tools.
  • TERRA Venture Partners: Terra invests in about 16-20 (4-5 per year) for a 1-2 year incubation period, followed by a “cherry picking” process. Terra VP invests in companies surviving the “cherry picking”. Veolia, GE, EDP, Clearweb, Enel are partners.
  • Giza Venture Capital: 5 funds, US$ 600 million under management, 102 investments, 20 active, 38 exits. Examples are: XtremIO, Actimize, Telegate, Precise, Plus, msystems, cyota, Olibit, Zoran, XTechnology. A particular success story is XtremIO: the team of 21 people (including secretary) turned US$ 6 million investment into a US$ 435 million cash sale to EMC.
  • StageOne Ventures: Early stage US$ 75 million fund, 17 investments.
  • Gillot Capital Partners: seed and early stage. Focus: cyber security.
  • SCP Vitalife Partners: 2 funds, US$ 230 capital under management.
  • Magma Venture Partners: focus on information and communications sector. Created over US$ 2 billion in acquired company value. Biggest success story: waze (crowd sourced location based services), return on capital investment: 171-times.
  • OrbiMed Healthcare Fund Management: largest global healthcare dedicated investment firm.
  • Nielsen Innovate:
Israel ventures: Panel discussion of Israeli Venture Capital Fund Managers and the Vice-President of Japan's Venture Capital Association
Panel discussion of Israeli Venture Capital Fund Managers and the Vice-President of Japan’s Venture Capital Association

Presentations and Panel discussion

Arik Klienstein: Driving innovation in Israel – the 8200 impact

8200 is a unit within the Israeli Defence Forces similar to the US NSA – technology based intelligence collection. 8200 veterans lead many Israeli start-ups including NICE, Verint, Check Point, paloalto.

8200 and the start up culture:

  • Select the best people out of high school or college
  • Short first formal training. Most of training done on the job
  • Flexible dynamic organizational structure
  • Direct and constant relationship with the end user
  • “Think out the box” mentality – no assumptions. Hierarchy-less flat structure
  • Must win attitude!

Tal Slobodkin (Talpiot 18 Graduate): The Talpiot program

Talpiot is Israel’s elite Israel Defense Forces training program, dedicated to create leading research and development officers for the various branches of the Israeli Defence Forces. Program was created in 1979, about 1000 graduates today.

Selection process:

  • starts with 15,000++ high school seniors
  • 100-150 attend next level of leadership assessment
  • 50-75 reach final selection committee
  • 30-40 enter the program
  • 25-35 graduate

Training and assignment:

  • three full academic years
  • full dual degree in Maths and Physics, most graduate additionally in Computer Science or other subjects
  • military training
  • significant exposure to all cutting edge military and non-military innovation
  • develop management skills
  • graduates pick own final assignment
  • minimum assignment is additional 6 years, average tenure in Israeli Defense Forces is 10 years

Notable graduates:

  • Yoaf Freund: Professor at UC San Diego, Goedel Prize winner
  • Elon Lindenstrauss, Professor of Mathematics at the Hebrew University and winner or 2010 Fields Medal
  • Marius Nacht, co-founder of Check Point Software
  • Eli Mintz, Simchon Faigler, Amir Natan, founders of Compugen Ltd
  • Founders of XIV, sold to IBM for US$ 400 million
  • Eviatar Metanya, head of National Cyber Bureau
  • Ophier Shoham, head of Israel’s Defence R&D Agency (Israel’s DARPA)

Elchana Harel (Harel-Hertz Investment House): Japanese investments in Israel

94 Japanese investments in Israeli High-tech during 2000-2014:

  • ICT: 41 investments
  • Semiconductors: 25 investments
  • Life sciences: 11 investments
  • VC funds: 17 investments

Characteristics:

  • Most investments are strategic, not financial, not exit driven
  • Most investments are direct into target companies, and relatively small by global standards: up to US$ 3 million
  • In many cases “silent investments”: e.g a Japanese electronics company does not want their Japanese competitors to know that they invest in Israel
  • Japanese investors mostly follow Israeli or US lead investors. Japanese investors seldom lead.

Japanese acquisitions in Israel:

  • Nikken Sohonsha: NBT
  • Yasukawa Robotoics: Yasukawa Israel (Eshed), Argo Medical Robotics
  • Sun Corporation: Cellebrite
  • SBI: Quark Pharma
  • Rakuten: Viber

Japanese presence in Israel:

  • R&D Centers: Hitachi Data, SONY, Toshiba
  • Service centers serving Intel: Tokyo Electron, Nikkon, Daifuku

Japanese-Israeli Joint Ventures:

  • Altair – SoftBank/Willcom
  • Given Imaging – Suzuken / Marubeni
  • Toshiba – CMT
  • Takeda – J&J – Orbimed (joint incubator)

David Heller: cooperation of Israeli investment funds with Japan

Israel’s venture capital fund industry was created by Israel’s Government creating the Yozma Fund of Funds: Israel’s Government invested a total of US$ 100 million in 10 VC funds (US$ 10 million per fund) under the condition that these funds had to attract much larger non-Government investment. In total the Yozma Fund of Funds invested US$ 100 million and resulted in a VC fund industry with a total of US$ 17 Billion of VC funds raised since 1993.

There is a relatively large number of Japanese investments in Israeli funds, however, the combined total investment is rather low, approximately 1% of all foreign investments in such funds. Thus there is much scope for increased Japanese investments in Israeli funds and ventures.

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

Docomo postpones Tizen OS mobile handsets for the second time

Docomo postpones Tizen OS mobile handsets for the second time

Below are notes for an interview for the French newspaper LesEchos. The full article can be found here.

On Thursday January 16th, 2014, NTT Docomo announced the postponement of mobile phone handsets based on the TIZEN operating system. This is actually the second time that NTT Docomo has postponed the planned introduction of TIZEN handsets, so it might become doubtful whether NTT Docomo will ever introduce TIZEN handsets.

In the announcement NTT Docomo essentially said that with the current market situation in Japan, it makes no commercial sense for Docomo to introduce a third smartphone operating system to the market.

The French journal Les Echos interviewed me about Docomo’s repeated postponement of TIZEN OS handsets. Here some notes I wrote up to prepare for the interview:

  1. Both for handset makers like HTC or Samsung and it would be a dream to become independent of OS owners/controllers like Microsoft or Google, and for mobile operators like Orange or Docomo, it would be a dream to have an OS they can control, and where they can introduce their own services like Docomo’s “iconcier” personal digital assistant, which is to some extent competing with Apple’s SIRI and with various Google services. Its a dream but realization is a different story. Its not enough to make and further develop and maintain the full OS stack including UI, create a development environment and SDKs as easy to use and competitive with Apple’s and Google’s, app stores, build a developer community who create lots of apps. Its also necessary to make a critical mass of attractive devices, gain a critical mass of market share, create global scale, and most importantly win over all the most important Apps like Facebook, LINE, etc.
  2. With the dramatically increasing complexity and sheer size of software, it becomes harder to bring mobile services to market without global scaleability, or at least a major part of the world, which usually will need to include China. Docomo does not have this global scale, so it will become harder and harder for Docomo to introduce own software services, such as iMode or iConcier.
  3. Docomo has continuously lost market share and recently even net subscribers, and in December for the first time in recent memory succeeded to gain top position in subscriber gains, surely because of the iPhone. In addition, rumors are that Apple demands very high minimum sales shares of operator partners. So Docomo is under double pressure:
    1. to satisfy contract conditions with Apple
    2. to maintain subscriber gains

    in addition, Docomo still has a substantial part of “iMode-keitai”, also called “galake” (= “Galapagos keitai”). So Docomo already has a large variety of OS and handset styles, and has recently reduced the number of different handset it supports, so going to Tizen would go against this trend.

  4. Its not the end of Tizen. Tizen can in addition to smartphones also go into embedded applications such as cars, elevators, washing mashines etc.

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

Ericsson Mobile Business Innovation Forum – Tokyo

Ericsson Mobile Business Innovation Forum – Tokyo

Ericsson Mobile Business Innovation Forum Tokyo:

Ericsson held the Mobile Business Innovation Forum in the Roppongi Hills Tower in Tokyo on October 31 and November 1, 2013 delivering a great overview of the push and pull of the mobile communications industry: technology push, M2M and user pull, as well as how the mobile operators between technology and users can best make customers happy and at the same time monetize their investments, while “Over The Top” (OTT) new comers (Google, YouTube, Amazon.com, Facebook, Twitter and others) seek to disrupt the good old telecommunications world.

Here some key take-aways, read more below:

  • About 50% of global smartphone, mobile phone and mobile broadband subscriptions are in Asia-Pacific, making Asia-Pacific the most important region in the world, and Japan one of the most important LTE markets.
  • Switch from voice to data is a differentiator: forerunner telcos see rapid growth (10-12% CAGR) for both revenues and EBITDA over the period 2008-2013, while average telcos see stagnation. The key for telcos is to be a forerunner, rather than an average stagnating telco.
  • Many products such as XBOX or Apple’s SIRI are linked via networks to a data center. Networks and data centers are disruptive innovation for games and many other sectors. Maybe cars as well.
  • Open source is coming to software defined networks (SDN), the OpenDayLight community develops software for software defined networks.
  • Software defined networks create virtualized networks, SDN support “network slices” for different applications. API’s open SDNs to users.
  • Manufacturers and other industries have rationalized a long time ago, telcos have not yet rationalized, creating big opportunities.

For insights and detailed statistics read our reports on Japan’s telecom sector.

Society in transformation

Society is transformed by broad band data services.

Douglas Gilstrap, Chief Strategist, Ericsson
Douglas Gilstrap, Chief Strategist, Ericsson

Douglas Gilstrap

Chief Strategist, Chairman of BU Modems, Ericsson

Douglas Gilstrap emphasized the increasing importance of software: Ericsson today is the world’s 5th biggest software house.

Mats H Olsson, Head of Asia-Pacific, Ericsson
Mats H Olsson, Head of Asia-Pacific, Ericsson

Mats H Olsson: Overview of mobile communications in Asia-Pacific markets

Head of Asia-Pacific, Ericsson

Markets drive data consumption:

  • Japan
    • LTE Penetration: 25%
    • Smartphone Penetration: 76%
    • Mobile Penetration: 118%
  • China
    • LTE Penetration: -%
    • Smartphone Penetration: 29%
    • Mobile Penetration: 90%
  • Australia
    • LTE Penetration: 21%
    • Smartphone Penetration: 60%
    • Mobile Penetration: 134%
  • S-Korea
    • LTE Penetration: 51%
    • Smartphone Penetration: 67%
    • Mobile Penetration: 108%

LTE Markets – 5 out of 10 top LTE markets globally are in Asia-Pacific, and the top 3 are in Asia-Pacific (however this table shows the percentage penetration, does not reflect market size. In terms of market size, Japan is doubtlessly No.1:

  1. S-Korea: 51% penetration
  2. Singapore: 30%
  3. Japan: 25%
  4. USA: 23%
  5. Australia: 21%
  6. Kuwait: 16%
  7. Sweden: 13%
  8. Canada: 8%
  9. Hong Kong: 6%
  10. Austria: 6%

Mobile communications will dwarf the PC-world. By 2018 we will expect to have:

  • PCS and tablets: 260 million in APAC (31%) vs 850 million globally
  • smartphone subscriptions: 2.2 billion in APAC (49%) vs 4.5 billion globally
  • mobile broadband subscriptions: 3.5 billion in APAC (50%) vs 7 billion globally
  • mobile phone subscriptions: 4.5 billion in APAC (50%) vs 9 billion globally
Katsuya Watanabe, Deputy Director General, Information and Communications Bureau, Japan's Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC)
Katsuya Watanabe, Deputy Director General, Information and Communications Bureau, Japan’s Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC)

Katsuya Watanabe (Charley K Watanabe): ICT Growth Strategy for Japan

Deputy Director-General, Information & Communications Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), Japan

Government of Japan – IT Strategic Headquarters:
The new internet world had a relatively slow start in Japan. In January 2001 the e-Japan Strategy was formed with the target for Japan to become the world’s most advanced IT nation by 2005, and the IT Strategic Headquarters where formed. In January 2006 the New IT Reform Strategy followed, and in July 2009, the i-Japan Strategy 2015.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) formulated the u-Japan Policy in December 2004, followed by the x-ICT Vision in July 2008.

With the change of Government in September 2009, the New Strategy in Information and Communications Technology formulated.

With the advent of Prime Minister Abe’s Government in December 2012, in June 2013, the new IT Strategy was formulated: “The world’s most advanced IT nation creation”, by the Council on ICT Strategy and Policy for Growth, which was set up in February 2013.

The Ministry focuses on the following trends: Big Data, Sensor Networks, Cloud Computing, and smart phones.

  • Mission: to be the most active country in the world.
  • Vision:
    1. Creating new value-added industries
    2. Solving social problems
    3. Improving and strengthening common ICT infrastructure
  • Issues: economic growth, employment, information transmission capacity, development of cities, super-aging society, resource problems, open innovation, cybersecurity, utilization of personal data

Prioritized projects are:

  • Creating new value-added industries:
    • data utilization
    • broadcast and contents
    • agriculture
    • local revitalization
  • Solving social problems:
    • Disaster prevention
    • Medical, nursing, health care
    • Resources
    • local revitalization

Mr Watanabe introduced several industry-academia-government collaboration projects addressing these priority issues. The economic effects by 2020 of creating new industries stimulated by these government programs are estimated as follows:

  1. super-aging society sector: 23 trillion yen (US$ 230 billion)
  2. resource sector (minerals, water, food, infrastructure): 20 trillion yen (US$ 200 billion)
  3. geospace sector: 62 trillion yen (US$ 620 billion), from today’s 20 trillion yen (US$ 200 billion) market size

A further program is the creation of ICT Smart Towns in Japan, especially also to build towns resilient against disasters.

John Rossant: A people-centric vision for future cities

Founder and Chairman of New Cities Foundation

By 2050, around 70% of the world’s population is expected to reside in urban areas.

Mobile applications transform cities, and in the ideal case create “people centric cities”, an example: AppMyCity!

Panel (left to right): Mats Olsson (Ericsson), Katsuya Watanabe (MIC), John Rossant (New Cities Foundation), Douglas Gilstrap (Ericsson)
Panel “Society in transformation”(left to right): Mats Olsson (Ericsson), Katsuya Watanabe (MIC), John Rossant (New Cities Foundation), Douglas Gilstrap (Ericsson)

Business in transformation

Jan Signell, Head of North East Asia and member of Ericsson Global Leadership Team
Jan Signell, Head of North East Asia and member of Ericsson Global Leadership Team

Jan Signell: Ericsson in Japan, China, S-Korea

Head of North East Asia Region, President of Ericsson-Japan

The first Ericsson distributor travelled to Japan in 1894 – more than 100 years ago.

Super high smartphone penetration and usage in Japan+China+S-Korea: Japan has 76% smartphone penetration, 49% of Chinese make purchases on their smartphone every week, networks have to be prepared.

Hiroyasu Asami, Managing Director of Smart-Life Business Division, NTT-DOCOMO
Hiroyasu Asami, Managing Director of Smart-Life Business Division, NTT-DOCOMO

Hiroyasu Asami: “NTT-DOCOMO‘s smart-life partner initiative

Managing Director of Smart-Life Business Division, NTT-DOCOMO

NTT-DOCOMO aims to be the customer’s partner for smart-life.

In the transition from traditional feature phones to smartphones including tablets, NTT-DOCOMO sees a new potential market emerging: video, shopping, books, services and contents are booming.

The center of the mobile eco-system (and value creation) is shifting to higher layers.

NTT-DOCOMO seeks effective utilization of its business assets:

  • Postpaid subscriptions (99.7% postpaid)
  • VAS sales at mobile shops: DOCOMO has 2,400 carrier DOCOMO branded shops
  • Handset control: DOCOMO sells handsets with value added services (VAS)

DOCOMO seeks to create new markets in 8 business areas:

  1. Commerce
  2. Finance/payment
  3. Health care/education
  4. M2M
  5. Safety/security
  6. Environment/ecology
  7. Aggregation/platform
  8. Media/content

The basic concept is to bring smart life into reality, and to become a smart life partner. To improve customer satisfaction and to improve corporate value.

DOCOMO is in the process to transition from the traditional i-Mode and i-Menu services on feature phones, to d-market and d-menu for the multi-OS environment (with Google/Android, Tizen, iOS and other OS).

Revenues from new business of DOCOMO increased from US$ 4 billion (FY2011), to US$ 6 billion (FY2012) and is expected to increase to US$ 11 billion by FY2015.

Masashi Satomura, Chief Engineer Dept 3, Honda R&D
Masashi Satomura, Chief Engineer Dept 3, Honda R&D

Masashi Satomura: “ITS, Cooperative system”

Chief Engineer Dept 3, Honda R&D

About 300 parties participate in Japan’s ITS programs, lead by the ITS Promotion in the Cabinet office of Japan.

Major cooperative projects are:

  • ASV-5 (V2V, V2P) by the Ministry for Land and Infrastructure and Transport MLIT
  • Joint research (V21) by MLIT and NILIM
  • DSSS/Green wave (V21) by the Nation Police Agency

Key issues are:

  • Standardization
  • Common hardware
  • hybrid communication
  • sustainable business model
  • positioning technology

Key targets are to achieve fatality rates below 2500 by 2018, and to reduce traffic congestions to one-half by 2020 compared to 2010.

Honda develops autonomous driving with the aim to realize “the joy of mobility” with safety and freedom.

The vision: As Japan aiming for the safest transportation in the world, we hope to deploy cooperation system in collaboration with government and car OEMs, in four phases.
Phase 1: basic services
Phase 2: advanced services
Phase 3: integrated services
Phase 4: autonomous services

Panel (left to right): Akira Yamaguchi (Orient Corporation), Hiroyasu Asami (NTT-DOCOMO),Masashi Satomura (Honda), Jan Signell (Ericsson)
Panel (left to right): Akira Yamaguchi (Orient Corporation), Hiroyasu Asami (NTT-DOCOMO),Masashi Satomura (Honda), Jan Signell (Ericsson)(
Ulf Ewaldsson, CTO, Ericsson
Ulf Ewaldsson, CTO, Ericsson

Ulf Ewaldsson

CTO, Ericsson

A perfect storm:

  • Network coverage and quality is good enough
  • Business models make data affordable
  • App-centric services become mainstream
  • Smartphone penetration is reaching critical mass

however, for mobile operators there is a HUGE difference between the frontrunner’s revenue and EBITDA growth compared with stagnant revenue/EBITDA for average operators. Key for mobile operators is to be strongly growing frontrunner – not a stagnating average operator.

To move from an average no-growth operator to a fast-growing frontrunner, a mindshift is needed from:

  • problem focus to opportunity focus
  • maximizing old revenues to innovating new revenues
  • connectivity as a commodity (“dumb pipe”) to connectivity as differentiator
  • from tech silos to tech synergies

Ericsson uses six growth codes:

  1. “Streetwise metrics”, experience centric KPIs
  2. “Show casing”: quality led marketing
  3. Redefine subscription: “unboxing”
  4. Open-ended innovation: “ecosystematic
  5. Visionary collaboration: “co-partnering”
  6. Visionary investing: “gap minding”
Yung-Ha Ji, Head of Network Strategy Dept., KT Corporation
Yung-Ha Ji, Head of Network Strategy Dept., KT Corporation

Yung-Ha Ji: How to migrate to future ICT network

Head of Network Strategy Department, KT Corporation

In the IDI/ICT Global Development index ranking, S-Korea ranks 1st globally for broadband, while the Scandinavian countries rank 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, and Japan ranks 8th, followed by UK on place 9.

kt will cover 99% of S-Korea’s population with LTE network based on 20MHz Bandwidth in the 1.8GHz band. With the BenchBee speed test, download speeds of 44 Mbps are achieved with a Category 4 LTE-A phone.

kt saw explosive growth of data traffic: 350 times increase over the 4 years from January 2009 to September 2013.
Monthly data usage is 2.2Gb for LTE and 1.2Gb for 3G phones. Total data traffic is about 20,000 TeraBit/Month in September 2013.

kt has the world-first LTE network using virtualization cloud technology.

kt introduced a series of services including Web-enabled IPTV, Giga-Internet FTTH premium services, olleh TV mobile, LTE broadcast, “Total Advertising Open Community” (TAOC) – using targeting of advertisements to differentiate from OTT operators.

Example of an innovative service: if you click an advertisement and watch an ad, you are rewarded with increased transmission speed.

Akira Yamaguchi: Mobile payment systems in Japan

Exec Officer Retail finance and credit cards, Orient Corporation

Jakob Navok, Director of Business Development, Square Enix
Jakob Navok, Director of Business Development, Square Enix

Jacob Navok: Games over the network

Director of Business Development, Square-Enix

Games are the ultimate application! Worldwide game industry revenues are US$77.4 billion in 2013, adding all segments from retail hardware to software and services.

Hardware used to be the driver in the past, but today the network drives everything, and networks bring disruption to game design, business models (“free-to-play” is a marketing model – not a business model). Business models include: micro transactions, subscriptions, advertisements and digital pricing.

Marketing disruption include: “free-to-play”, cross-promotional networks, and app-stores.

Video had a dramatic impact on networks, but games have not.

Interactive media bring the next revolution: SONY acquired Gaikai (US$ 400 million), and Microsoft announced Xbox Cloud services (US$ 700 million).

Server side rendering and developer innovation will create game demand on many devices.

Speed is key!

Dan Simmons, Reporter and Producer, CLICK, BBC
Dan Simmons, Reporter and Producer, CLICK, BBC

Dan Simmons

Reporter and Producer, CLICK, BBC

Dan Simmons showed how smart phones are a second screen accompanying movies, PCs and TV. 60-80% of Americans use a second screen, and 46% use a smart phone.

Eyeballs move to iPads… the question is: who owns the second screen!

CBS made US$ 10 million off advertising, but advertising ads during superball on the internet – not on TV!

TV is about raising emotions, and feedback at the moment, immediate feedback is incredibly valuable. A 2nd screen can give a 360 degrees view.

Dan mentioned the APP-movie, where visitors to the movie theatre downloaded an App to their smartphone and received message to their App during the movie. The messages need to be frame-accurate, and today’s networks are not good enough to ensure frame-accuracy. People with smartphones and using the App knew who the murderer was at 65 minutes into the movie, while visitors without smartphone and App had to wait until 80 minutes into the movie before they know who the murderer was. Initially it was thought that this could be a problem, but it turned out to be a positive part of the enjoyment for the audience. A further attraction was, that visitors could keep the App on their smartphone, and the movie owner could reach viewers long after the performance was over, and they had long left the movie theatre, keep the contact, and potentially create follow-on business.

Panel (left to right): Dan Simmons (BBC), Jacob Navok (Square-Enix), Ulf Ewaldsson (Ericsson), Yung-Ha Ji (KT Corporation)
Panel (left to right): Dan Simmons (BBC), Jacob Navok (Square-Enix), Ulf Ewaldsson (Ericsson), Yung-Ha Ji (KT Corporation)
Adrian Ionel, CEO, Mirantis
Adrian Ionel, CEO, Mirantis

Shoji Nemoto

Exec VP, SONY Corporation

Q&A

Question: SONY identity in 2020?

Shoji Nemoto: Our mission is to fulfill & inspire the desires of users

Question: 3D-TV failed. How can we know that 4k-TV will be successful?

Shoji Nemoto: 3D is not only a consumer product. 4k-TV also has industrial applications, such as telemedicine and other medical applications. SONY cooperates with Olympus for medical applications.

Adrian Ionel

CEO, Mirantis

Today for every new product you need a network and a data center:

  • SIRI: Apple invested US$ 1 billion in a data center
  • X-BOX: Microsoft built a data center

Open source is extremely powerful vs closed systems:

  1. opensource is created by users, users are involved from the beginning and users are extremely powerful
  2. Open: anybody can contribute
  3. Closed source vs open source:
    • closed source: traditional hierarchical industrial structure, waterfall model, top-down
    • open source: works like nature, social network, meritocracy and transparency, very different to traditional industrial structure

Examples for open source: Linux, JAVA, Big data.

Open source creates new business models. Facebook, Google, Amazon.com are only possible with open source. Gigantic data centers are only possible with open source.

Most major players invest in open source.

Taro Kodama, Country Growth Manager, Facebook Japan
Taro Kodama, Country Growth Manager, Facebook Japan

Taro Kodama

Country Growth Manager, Facebook Japan

No. 1 Facebook employee in Japan.

“We can’t just copy what we did in Japan – we must reinvent in Japan”

  • Facebook’s complacency about mobile is surprising. Its this kind of complacency that kills companies (Forbes.com, February 2012)
  • Facebook’s future is in mobile. Mobile is THE strategy for Facebook (Forbes.com, May 2013)

Facebook: over 874 million users on mobile, 49% of revenue is now generated from mobile, up from 0% last year.

  • Connect everyone
  • Understand the world
  • Build the knowledge economy

Facebook opportunity:
Facebook: 1.1 billion users
Online: 2.4 billion
World population: 7 billion

Internet traffic is shifting to mobile: 13% of global internet traffic is on mobile.

Panel 4
Panel (left to right): Ulf Ewaldsson (Ericsson), Adrian Ionel (Mirantis), Taro Kodama (Facebook)

Innovation and technology evolution

Ulf Ewaldsson, CTO, Ericsson
Ulf Ewaldsson, CTO, Ericsson

Ulf Ewaldsson: “Transforming networks

CTO, Ericsson

We see cities as organisms.

Trendspotting:

  • scarce spectrum
  • simplicity and automation
  • continued traffic growth
  • from nodes to systems
  • mobile entreprise
  • blurring of IT and telecom

Concept of “Network slices”:

Network performance needs depend on industry, beyond just smartphones.

A matrix of industry needs covering the following industries: cars, processing, utilities, transport, media, and NSPS, healthcare etc.
Which have different needs for: throughput, latency, QoS, volumes, coverage, capacity, security and location.

A common network platform includes dynamic and secure “network slices” with different specifications for different industries and applications.

Three new products:

  • Ericsson Radio Dot System
  • SDN on a chip: SNP 4000
  • Cloud on a blade: Ericsson Cloud System

Technology in-depth sessions

Erik Ekudden, Head of Technology Strategies, Ericsson
Erik Ekudden, Head of Technology Strategies, Ericsson

Network Slices: Service Provider (SP) Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Cloud

Erik Ekudden

Head of Technology Strategies, Ericsson

Service Provider based Software Defined Networks (SP SDN) are on the way to deployment. The path to deployment includes: technology, business model development and operations. Currently we are still midway in the technology development phase, business model development is in the early phase, and we are just before operations and deployment.

Network functions are virtualized in the DC/cloud infrastructure. Functional layers of the network are virtualized, and networks become open to developers.

Networks are elastic and we have “network slices” for different applications.

OpenDayLight

Ericsson is leading participant/founder in the open source “OpenDaylight” LINUX community, the first release of the Hydrogen Code was on September 13, 2013. OpenDayLight is an open source community developing software-defined networking (SDN).

Daniel Ehrenstrahle, Head of Strategy & Portfolio, BU Networks, Ericsson
Daniel Ehrenstrahle, Head of Strategy & Portfolio, BU Networks, Ericsson

Connecting the dots in the Networked Society

Daniel Ehrenstrahle

Head of Strategy & Portfolio, BU Networks, Ericsson

Business cases and clear rationale why technology is introduced is necessary.

We need to redefine how network performance is defined: “app coverage” defines network performance not in terms of technical data alone, but in terms of usability of each app. App coverage for video will be different than for voice, or low intensity data applications.

70% of usage is indoors, therefore we need indoor coverage, and Ericsson does not believe in Femto-technology, and introduces the Radio Dot System. Launch will be in 2H 2014 for 3G and 4G and for WiFi later. Up to 4 channels per unit.

Component based architecture:
AIR = antenna integrated unit
SSR = Edge router

Ericsson
Ericsson “DOT”
Ericsson Radio
Ericsson Radio “DOT” System: RJ45 Antenna Mounting Unit and Active Antenna Element taken apart
Ericsson
Ericsson “DOT” system, RJ45 connector socket

Monetizing the network assets

Beau Atwater

Head of Strategy and Business Intelligence, BU Support Solutions, Ericsson

Tomas Ageskog, Head of Consulting and Systems Integration, BU Global Services, Ericsson
Tomas Ageskog, Head of Consulting and Systems Integration, BU Global Services, Ericsson

Business Transformation – Ericsson Consulting and System Integration (SI)

Tomas Ageskog

Head of SI Core, IP & Media, Ericsson

Manufacturing and other industries have rationalized decades ago. Telcos are not yet rationalized.

OSS/BSS need to be good and fast to make money.

A revolution will happen in the broadcast space when processes are being rationalized.

In Australia, Telstra spent US$ 1.1 billion for a billing system.

As another example, a Tier-1 European telco operator had 62 different billing systems.

Challenges:

  • Business agility,
  • time to market,
  • from network centric to customer centric,
  • Next generation networks, mobile broadband and cloud computing
  • Roles in new business models and eco-systems

Ericsson Global Services division grew from SEK 29 billion and 8000 people in 2003 to SEK 97 billion and 60,000 people in 2012.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in Supercell (interview for Talouselämä, Finland’s largest business newspaper)

softbank acquires supercell

Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in SuperCell – interview with Finland’s largest business newspaper Talouselämä

Talouselämä (Finland’s largest business newspaper)’s news editor Mirva Heiskanen interviewed me for their article entitled “Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in Supercell” (Supercellin ostaja Masayoshi Son on Japanin supermies).

More interviews by Gerhard Fasol.
To understand SoftBank better, read our report on SoftBank, an analysis of SoftBank, history, current data, and the context.

Here are some of my main points:

Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in SuperCell – SoftBank is a very large companies, and aiming to become the world’s largest company

SoftBank is really a very large company, driven by the charismatic founder Masayoshi Son. To get a feeling for the size of SoftBank, while the investment in Supercell is a large amount of money by anybody’s standards, its about 5% of SoftBank’s acquisitions this year alone (in addition to M&A type investments, SoftBank also invests substantial sums in networking equipment and other telecom business infrastructure and data centers).

Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in SuperCell – SoftBank invested in about 1500 companies, the most famous currently being Alibaba

Overall SoftBank invests in about 1500 companies or more: SoftBank takes a venture capital approach to this portfolio. Overall SoftBank investments are incredibly successful. As an example, look at the currently important Alibaba case:
Softbank acquired 36.7% of Alibaba in 2000 for US$ 20 million.
Alibaba’s market cap will be determined after its IPO, but currently figures between US$ 100 billion and even up to US$ 250 billion circulate. This would value SoftBank’s 36.7% stake in Alibaba at somewhere between US$ 36.7 billion and US$ 91 billion, a return on initial investment between 1835 and 4550 times!

While SoftBank’s overall portfolio is outstandingly successful, not every single investment is successful, as is normal for a venture type investment style.

Japanese superman Masayoshi Son invests in SuperCell – this year alone, SoftBank investments and acquisitions amount to about US$ 30 billion

This year SoftBank’s direct investments and acquisitions alone are on the order of US$ 30 billion and include:

  • Sprint US$ 21.6 billion + infrastructure investments
  • Clearwire (not sure if this is included in the Sprint figures)
  • eMobile/eAccess US$ 5 billion including debt
  • GungHo increase stake US$ 1/4 billion
  • Supercell US$ 1.5 billion
  • mobile phone distributor Brightstar which is another US$ 1.26 billion

Talouselämä questions and my answers:

  • What are SoftBank’s targets? SoftBank wants to become one of the most important companies globally, has a 30 year plan and a 300 your plan
  • How does SoftBank integrate acquisitions? Case-by-case. In some cases, e.g. Vodafone-Japan KK, Softbank totally absorbed the company and its assets became much of the starting point of SoftBank Mobile, however today’s SoftBank Mobile is a dramatically different company compared to Vodafone-Japan KK, which according to Masayoshi Son in recent interviews “was going south”.
  • How important are games for Softbank? SoftBank is major investor in GungHo, which is one of the world’s most successful smartphone game companies.
  • What other businesses does SoftBank concentrate on, and what kind of goals does it have? SoftBank today focusses on mobile communications and internet, however is also active in other areas. For example, SoftBank is aggressively building an energy business, with focus on renewable energy, which includes renewable energy investments in Mongolia for example. SoftBank‘s more than 1500 investments include Alibaba and Yahoo Japan KK.

To understand SoftBank better, read our report on SoftBank, an analysis of SoftBank, history, current data, and the context.

Understand Japan’s games sector and game makers

Report “Japan game makers and markets” (pdf file, approx 400 pages, 140 figures)
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Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Assessing Oracle-Sun Deal (CNBC TV interview)

Gerhard Fasol CNBC

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  • Assessing Oracle-Sun Deal (Airtime: Tues. Apr. 21 2009)

    Read more about Japan’s electrical sector: http://www.eurotechnology.com/store/j_electric/

  • Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

    NTT-Data expands to Europe: Acquisition of Cirquent GmbH

    NTT

    NTT Data and BMW agreed today, that NTT Data will acquire 72.9% of outstanding shares of Cirquent GmbH

    NTT Data thus gains BMW as largest customer in Europe

    Today, August 1, 2008, NTT Data and BMW agreed, that NTT Data will acquire 72.9% of the outstanding shares of Cirquent GmbH in order to globalize.

    Cirquent was part of the BMW Group, and is Germany’s 7th biggest system integrator

    Between 1992-2008 Cirquent was part of the BMW Group. Cirquent is No. 7 in the Luenendonk ranking of German system integrators. Among Cirquent customers are BMW, Deutsche Boerse, Muenchner Rueck (reinsurer), and T-Mobile Germany. Cirquent has about 1800 employees and achieved sales of EURO 286 Million in 2007.

    Cirquent share ownership ratios after this acquisition:

    • 72.9% NTT Data
    • 25.1% BMW AG
    • 2% Cirquent GmbH employees

    After this acquisition, BMW becomes NTT Data’s largest customer in Europe. We consider this acquisition an excellent move by NTT Data, NTT Data acquired Germany’s 7th largest system integrator, including about 1000 highly qualified employees, and at the same time also gained BMW as largest customer in Europe, together with a number of other blue chip customers such as Deutsche Boerse, Muencher Rueck and T-Mobile Germany.

    Read more about Japan’s telecom sector in our J-COMM report.

    Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

    Outsourcing Japan market research and strategy consulting to India, Philippines?? – a recipe for business failure in Japan?

    www.eurotechnology.com

    Business decisions unrelated to market realities are a prime reason for failure of foreign companies in Japan

    In a quest to reduce market research costs, Japan market research is often outsourced to India, Philippines, Indonesia etc

    With shock and surprise we recently found out that a very famous telecom and IT industry market research and strategy consulting firm with a globally famous brand apparently outsources market research of Japan’s mobile phone and telecom sector to India. The Indian employees apparently are diligently studying the Japanese language in evening classes, so that in a few years time, they will be able to read a little of the Japanese mobile market information which can be found on the internet, we assume.

    We believe that this explains why so much information about Japan’s telecom and mobile phone markets circulating outside Japan is incomplete, or in many cases even wrong. As a consequence companies like Vodafone then take management decisions in Japan, which were totally unrelated to Japan’s market realities.

    This fact also contributes we believe to the fact, that some of the most famous global companies in the telecommunications sector find it so difficult to succeed in Japan – not that Vodafone, Nokia (mobile phones and VERTU – except networks which are a great success), Cable & Wireless, Deutsche Telekom all withdrew from Japan – outsourcing market intelligence to low-cost countries such as China, India, Philippines etc. is certainly one of the contributing factors.

    Indeed similar to Vodafone’s departure from Japan, famous global telecom consultancies have also closed shop in Japan, due to the very high costs and the continuous high investments necessary to achieve and maintain leadership in understanding Japan’s telecommunication markets.

    We can assure our newsletter subscribers and our customers that our original Eurotechnology market reports and our strategy consulting is hand crafted in Tokyo/Japan. Our team members working on Japan market research and strategy consulting, all live in Japan, are mostly Japanese, and work daily with Japanese CEOs, telecom managers, and most importantly of all, daily interview and discuss with real-life Japanese mobile phones users: face-to-face here in Japan – not across one or more oceans.

    Made in Japan: the Original “Eurotechnology” Japan-market reports

    Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

    About Tokyo Stock Exchange Turbulence on CNBC and RedHerring

    Wednesday January 18, 2006 I was interviewed live on CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” news program about the turbulence on the Tokyo Stock Exchange following lower than expected quarterly earning reports by Intel, Yahoo and IBM, and a sell-off of Livedoor shares. Here is a summary of what I said in the interview:

    Overall I am very optimistic for Japan’s economy, and I expect that the stock markets will recover soon.
    There are short-term issues, mid-term issues and long-term issues.
    Short-term, there is impact by Intel’s lower than expected results in the semiconductor sector, especially on Tokyo Electron, which shares also dropped substantially. However I think that the strong drop in share values on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) was much more an effect of the Livedoor issues than disappointment with the US high-tech results.

    The Livedoor issues are temporary and not significant for the bigger picture in Japan, and will be resolved very soon by the Police, Stock Exchange and the other relevant authorities. I don’t expect long-term impact. There may be some changes in rules concerning M&A.

    Concerning the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE): the capacity of the TSE seems to be around 4 million transactions/day, and the Chairman of the TSE stopped trading when the transaction volume started coming close to this limit. This shows the IT limitations of the TSE. This would be less serious if it was an isolated incident, however during the last year there have been several IT related incidents, such as the incident where erroneously 600,000 shares were sold at a price of 1 YEN, instead of one single share for YEN 600,000, which caused huge losses, and was not caught by the trading software, and there have been a number of similar glitches recently. So clearly the IT infrastructure needs improvement. However, from what I have seen in Japan, I expect now a lot of serious committee work, and I expect that the IT systems will be fixed in due course – I am very confident about that.

    So overall I think Japan will come stronger out of these temporary issues.

    Regarding the question of human issues vs technology on the Stock Exchange, I think both human issues and IT are important and both must be working well.

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

    Amazon.co.jp captures mobile purchases directly inside competing brick-and-mortar stores with barcode i-appli

    Amazon.co.jp introduced a barcode reader i-Appli (JAVA application for DoCoMo’s i-Mode phones), with which shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores can directly compare the prices with Amazon.co.jp’s mobile webstore prices. If the shopper prefers, he/she can order directly by i-Mode mobile phone from Amazon.co.jp online while still standing in front of the shelves of the brick-and-mortar store.

    With this barcode reading mobile phone application (i-Appli), Amazon.co.jp is directly taking the competition into brick-and-mortar stores, battling on the same ground.

    User interface of Amazon.co.jp’s barcode reading i-Appli – click to scan:

    With Amazon.co.jp's barcode scan application customers shopping in a store can compare prices with Amazon.co.jp's ecommerce prices, and if cheaper, can order from Amazon.co.jp directly
    With Amazon.co.jp’s barcode scan application customers shopping in a store can compare prices with Amazon.co.jp’s ecommerce prices, and if cheaper, can order from Amazon.co.jp directly from the mobile phone

    The customer can directly scan the barcode with his/her Docomo i-Mode phone, and the Amazon.co.jp barcode i-Appli:

    Customer scans the barcode in a store using the Amazon.co.jp bar code application on a DoCoMo i-mode phone
    Customer scans the barcode in a store using the Amazon.co.jp bar code application on a DoCoMo i-mode phone

    On the next screen Amazon.co.jp’s i-Appli shows the same product’s page in the Amazon.co.jp mobile store. The customer can directly order with one click if he/she prefers Amazon.co.jp’s offer instead of the brick-and-mortar store, where he/she is currently shopping. This i-Appli allows Amazon.co.jp to catch customers from within traditional stores.

    After scanning the barcode, the Amazon.co.jp i-appli directly shows the price and order page of the same product on the Amazon.co.jp mobile site
    After scanning the barcode, the Amazon.co.jp i-appli directly shows the price and order page of the same product on the Amazon.co.jp mobile site

    Read our QR-code report for in-depth analysis and lots of applications of QR-codes and bar codes in Japan.

    Simulation and Visualization of the Dynamics of Electron Wave Packets on a Femto-Second Time-Scale

    Conference presentation by Gerhard Fasol at the 5th International Workshop on Femtosecond Technology FST’98, Tsukuba, Japan, February 12-13, 1998, on

    “Simulation and Visualization of the Dynamics of Electron Wave Packets on a Femto-Second Time-Scale”

    Details of our work on the simulation and visualization of electron wave packet motion.