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ecommerce Economics

Rakuten vs SoftBank + Yahoo vs Amazon (Bloomberg and BusinessWeek interviews)

Rakuten vs Softbank

Yahoo reduces e-commerce fees to compete harder with Rakuten’s online mall

Bloomberg interview and BusinessWeek interview about Yahoo KK’s aggressive reduction of ecommerce fees, a move increasing competition with Amazon.com and Rakuten.

How do you see Yahoo KK’s latest move to reduce or eliminate merchant’s fees? Do you see this as an attack by SoftBank/Yahoo on Rakuten?

SoftBank and Rakuten are clearly two very different companies – they don’t compete on the same ground. SoftBank is a telecom company with a Government spectrum license – a quasi-monopoly on a certain wavelength spectrum. Rakuten has no such monopoly, but is an internet based ecommerce company.

How do you see the future of Rakuten now?

Rakuten is clearly squeezed between SoftBank/Yahoo on one side and Amazon.com on the other side.

Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, SoftBank/Yahoo-KK’s Masayoshi Son and Rakuten’s Hiroshi Mikitani are clearly some of the most brilliant minds on this planet earth, so any battle between these three is phenomenal.

You ask about Hiroshi Mikitani/Rakuten – he clearly has his job cut out to compete with Masayoshi Son and Jeff Bezos – that’s not easy at all.

In particular, Amazon.com has a lot of strengths in areas, where Rakuten does not compete, e.g. AWS – Amazon Web Services, which is a very important cloud services company.

In terms of globalization, I also see challenges ahead for Rakuten. Even though Rakuten has recently decided to train staff in English conversation, its not a trivial job for an essentially Japanese company to globalize.

How do you see globalization of Rakuten and Softbank?

SoftBank clearly has taken a big step in acquiring Sprint in USA. SoftBank’s very big challenge is now to make Sprint a very big success and this will take some time.
Rakuten also has a huge challenge to globalize, and it will be interesting to see if Rakuten can become a global company

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Categories
ecommerce Galapagos effect Mobile mobile payment QR codes Software

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.

Categories
ecommerce GPS Leadership Mobile mobile payment QR codes telecommunications

Wireless Japan 2004 exhibition (Tokyo, July 21-23, 2004)

FeliCa mobile payment wallet phones at the centre of attention

by Gerhard Fasol

Wireless, mobile phone industry trends years before they reach outside Japan

Every year the Wireless Japan sets global trends in wireless communications and mobile phones. Mobile phone industry professionals cannot afford to miss this trend setting show. It is here that Japanese carriers and handset makers introduce their latest products and show design studies and concept phones which set industry trends for the next months and years.

There were some surprises: In recent Wireless-Japan shows usually the KDDI/AU-design project prototypes were at the center of attention – this year I could not find any. For example, at Wireless-Japan-2002, KDDI/AU showed “Infobar” prototypes a full 16 months before market introduction. Did KDDI/AU decide to keep future design-project releases secret until they hit the market? Could well be so, given Japan’s increasingly ferocious mobile phone competition. Another surprise was Vodafone’s absence – Vodafone in recent years used to have the biggest show.

On the other hand this time most handset makers showed impressive concept phones, Matsushita/Panasonic under the heading “Beyond 3G”. The image shows NEC’s concept design study of a flexible multimedia phone: this phone has two screens which can be bent together, and used jointly as a larger screen.

Wireless Japan 2004 Highlights: “Beyond 3G”

Beyond 3G: SANYO 3.5G phone for 2.4Mbps data download (for KDDI/AU):

KDDI/AU 3G phone W21SA
KDDI/AU 3G phone W21SA
SANYO show at Wireless Japan 2004
SANYO show at Wireless Japan 2004

Wireless Japan 2004: NEC “tag” wrapping multimedia design concept phone:

Concept model phone by NEC at WirelessJapan-2004 exhibition
Concept model phone by NEC at WirelessJapan-2004 exhibition

“Wireless Japan 2004” – much was expected: for example, it wasn’t surprising for anyone that DoCoMo’s i-Mode-FeliCa wallet-phones were center stage of the DoCoMo exhibit with lots of partners demoing wallet-phone applications.

NEC concept phone
NEC concept phone
NEC concept phone
NEC concept phone

Matsushita/Panasonic “Beyond 3G” design concepts:

Panasonic concept phone
Panasonic concept phone

DoCoMo UbiButton and UbiChip:

DoCoMo's UbiButton and UbiChip
DoCoMo’s UbiButton and UbiChip

DoCoMo i-Mode-FeliCa wallet phones – for electronic cash:

the world's first commercial wallet phone: P506iC - by DoCoMo and Panasonic
the world’s first commercial wallet phone: P506iC – by DoCoMo and Panasonic

DoCoMo i-Mode-FeliCa wallet phones – as an electronic door key:

Mobile phone as a RFID key to lock and unlock doors
Mobile phone as a RFID key to lock and unlock doors

We have substantial documentation about the Wireless Japan 2004 exhibition, and most other year’s Wireless Japan exhibitions. If you need information or documentation for prior art or other investigations, please contact us.

Learn more: report on Japan’s telecom sector (269 pages, pdf file):

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