Japan’s Galapagos effect on market caps

Japan's Galapagos effect on market caps

Japan’s electronics giants market caps are remarkably low

General Electric’s market cap is about 13 times higher that of Hitachi

Some of Japan’s electrical corporations have remarkably low market capitalizations: General Electric has 1.6 x more sales than Hitachi, but has 13.3 x the market capitalization. Philips has 1/3 x Hitachi’s sales, but has 2.2 times higher market cap.

Low market values do not help big recent public share offerings:
Hitachi raising YEN 250.7 Billion (US$ 2.8 Billion),
Toshiba raising YEN 298.7 Billion (US$ 3.3 Billion), and
NEC raising YEN 115.5 Billion (US$ 1.3 Billion).

Low valuations increase the pressure for change in Japan’s electrical sector, and the SANYO-Panasonic merger is an indication of changes to come.

In the “post-Galapagos committee” we are working with some of Japan’s brightest leaders on understanding the reasons and on how to drive this change.

Benchmarking Japan’s electrical companies – Philips= 1/3 x Hitachi’s sales and 2.2 x Hitachi’s market cap:

revenues vs market cap for Japan

GE= 1.6 x Hitachi’s sales and 13.3 x Hitachi’s market cap

revenues vs market cap for Japan

More in our report on Japan’s electrical industries.

Japan electronics industries – mono zukuri. Preview this report:

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Japan trends 2008/2009

One of our clients in the financial industry asked me several trend questions:

  1. Q1: Biggest surprises in Japan in 2008?
  2. Q2: Biggest changes for 2009?

    • Hopefully LED/Solid state lighting going mainstream to save energy
    • Batteries and solar cells in combination starting to replace petrol for cars
    • Solar cell battle (between Q-cells, SHARP and others)
  3. Q3: Key topics in Japanese media for 2009?

    • Financial crisis and reviving the economy
    • Crisis of the car industry – and car industry’s paradigm shift

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ICT trends for Japan for 2009

ICT trends for Japan for 2009: smart phone boom, Nokia exits Japan's mobile phone handset market, Japanese companies acquire in Europe

Smartphones, European exits from Japan, and M&A

ICT trends for Japan: Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) remain engaged in Japan’s ICT sector

One of the Embassies here in Tokyo asked me to write a report about ICT trends for Japan…

ICT trends for Japan: Mobile phone sector

Pushed by the Government the mobile operators changed the business model for mobile phone sales from a straight subsidy model to an installment payment system. As a consequence the mobile phone sales collapsed, creating huge difficulties for Japan’s mobile phone makers, but greatly improving the financial results of mobile operators.

Smart phones grow market share in Japan

An interesting trend is the growth of the “smart-phone” market (Blackberry, HTC-Windows-Mobile phones, iPhone etc.) and mini-PCs, which can be acquired for YEN 1 with subsidy from eMobile.

In this context the Japanese telecom equipment makers association invited me to give a presentation, which was booked out 2-3 weeks ahead – about 100 Japanese telecom equipment maker managers attended! The General Affairs Vice-Minister / Secretary of State attended…. ( download my presentation here – in Japanese language: “Paradigm shift and opportunities for Japanese mobile phone makers” )

Nokia terminates mobile phone business in Japan

On November 27th, 2008, global press announcements announced that NOKIA will stop making mobile phones for Japan’s mobile operators with immediate effect. DoCoMo and SoftBank had NOKIA phones in preparation and had already started marketing efforts – these were cancelled a few days after NOKIA’s press announcement.

NOKIA had founded the Japan subsidiary on March 3rd, 1989, almost exactly 20 years ago, thus NOKIA has given up entering Japan’s mobile phone market after 20 years of efforts. NOKIA will not totally shut down in Japan, NOKIA announced that R&D and procurement will continue, and VERTU announced to enter Japan’s market with a mobile vertual network operator (MVNO) model renting network capacity from DoCoMo, and opening own shops.- However the opening of these direct VERTU stores keep being postponed.

NOKIA joins the row of European telecom companies which have given up operations in Japan: Vodafone, Cable & Wireless.

Nokia Siemens Networks (SNS) is continuing business in Japan as well, so NOKIA will not be entirely gone from Japan.

M&A

European company’s acquisitions in Japan are currently at low levels, including the ICT sector. By far the largest acquisition in Japan by a company from the European/Mediterranian area was not by an EU company, but by the Israeli company Iscar which acquired the Japanese company Tungaloy for around US$ 1 Billion. However, this acquisition was driven by US capital. Read details in our blog here.

In the opposite direction, Japanese acquisitions in EU and elsewhere, there is a boom of acquisitions by Japanese companies abroad. For example, TDK acquired the German company EPCOS, Fujitsu acquired the outstanding 1/2 of Fujitsu-Siemens, NTT-Data acquired 72.9% of Cirquent which was a 98% subsidiary of BMW before. SONY acquired the outstanding 1/2 of the SONY-Bertelsmann Music Group from Bertelsmann.

The current trend is definitely a strengthening of Japanese acquisitions in Europe.

The most important issue however are not the acquisition transactions themselves, but the crucial issue will be whether these acquisitions create or destroy value. In many cases the difficulties to overcome “cross-cultural” issues are enormous. Many huge wrecks line the road: Vodafone-Japan, Cable-Wireless-Japan, NOKIA’s mobile phone business in Japan, or DoCoMo’s overseas acquisitions. There are also many success stories – the most impressive and famous one Nissan-Renault, however there are many more. An interesting case in progress is Nippon-Sheet-Glass (now NSG Group)’s acquisition of Pilkington Glass (read about a presentation by NSG’s CEO here in our blog).

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NOKIA quits Japan – for now…

NOKIA’s Japan subsidiary was founded on April 3, 1989 – almost 20 years ago. On November 27, 2008 NOKIA announced to terminate selling mobile phones to Japan’s mobile operators, effectively withdrawing from Japan (except for purchasing, R&D and VERTU).

NOKIA’s sales figures in Japan were a well kept secret until last week when several Japanese newspapers wrote that NOKIA sold 200,000 phones during FY 2007: thus NOKIA’s market share was 0.39% – after 20 years of market entry efforts.

Considering the disastrous collapse of mobile phone handset sales in Japan, NOKIA’s move to quit sales in Japan actually makes a lot of sense. Nothing prevents NOKIA from re-entering Japan again in the future.

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Japan’s mobile phone disaster

Japan’s mobile phone sector is admired the world over, and Japanese mobile phones are years ahead the rest of the world regarding functionality. However, Japan’s mobile phone industry may be heading for a disaster, similar to the European 3G spectrum license fee disaster which almost bankrupted Europe’s mobile phone operators – unless changes are made quickly. Statistics released today show that mobile phone deliveries in October dropped down to 1/4 of steady sales maintained over the last 8 years as the figure below shows.

Switch from subsidy business model to installment contract model causes Japan's mobile phone handset market to collapse (temporarily)
Switch from subsidy business model to installment contract model causes Japan’s mobile phone handset market to collapse (temporarily)

What is the reason for the disastrous drop in mobile phone deliveries?

Until recently Japan’s mobile phone operators subsidized mobile phone handsets. Consumers would typically pay YEN 10,000 (about US$ 100) for handsets with built-in digital TV, GPS, movie camera with auto-focus, electronic money and tickets, QR-code reader, and much more, which cost the operators up to YEN 100,000 (US$ 1000) per handset.

Encouraged by Japan’s Government, mobile operators recently switched from the subsidy model to an installment plan, while discounting the monthly usage fees.

While previously consumers put YEN 10,000 (US$ 100) or in some cases YEN 1 (1 cent) on the counter to receive one of the world’s most advanced handsets, since a few weeks ago consumers are faced with a 2 year installment purchase contract where they pay the full YEN 60,000 (US$ 600) or YEN 80,000 (US$ 800) for a handset in installments of around YEN 3000 (US$ 30) each month for two years. Not surprisingly handset sales dropped into the cellar as shown above (the figure above actually shows the deliveries from manufacturers to mobile operators, not the actual retail sales).

What are the likely consequences?

  1. continuing consolidation of Japan’s mobile phone handset makers
  2. surviving handset makers will push into international markets
  3. operators will push harder for cheaper handsets
  4. operators might return to a modified subsidy model
  5. NOKIA might get another chance in Japan

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Paradigm change of the global mobile phone business and opportunities for Japanese mobile phone makers

presentation by Gerhard Fasol, at the Industry Association of Japanese telecom and networking equipment makers, Friday November 27, 2008, 15:00-16:30

Presentation was fully booked several weeks before the talk, attended by about 100 managers and executives of Japan’s telecom equipment makers, and included also the Vice-Minister/Secretary of State of Japan’s General Affairs Ministry, which is responsible for telecom regulation in Japan.

Download the presentation as a pdf-file here (in Japanese language)

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The Opaquenes of Japan’s social network systems (SNS)

Opaqueness of Japan’s SNS was a point of discussion at the Next Context Conference. When you use Japan’s social network systems, instead of portrait photographs and real names in Western SNS, in Japan you’ll find that most people use phantasy names and pictures of churches, cats, airplanes, clowns and cartoons instead of passport photographs. Japanese people prefer to keep there privacy intact in this and several other ways. For example mostly you cannot join Japan’s SNS unless you are invited in by a friend, and you can’t join unless you live in Japan (verified by your Japanese mobile email address).

Looks like Western SNS will have difficulties to thrive in Japan’s SNS unless they make some adaptations of their Western functionality for Japan – or unless Japanese people change their preferences.

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Paradigm change of the global mobile phone business and opportunities for Japanese mobile phone makers

Presentation at the CEATEC Conference, talk NT-13, Meeting Room 302, International Conference Hall, Makuhari Messe, Friday October 3, 2008, 11:00-12:00.

See the announcement here [in English] and in Japanese [世界の携帯電話市場のパラダイム変更と日本の携帯電話メーカーのチャンス]

The emergence of iPhone, Android, open-sourcing of Symbian, and the growth of mobile data services are changing the paradigm of the global mobile phone business opening new opportunities for Japanese mobile phone makers. Japan’s mobile phone handset makers have missed most opportunities during the first wave of mobile phone opportunities. The developing paradigm change opens new opportunities for Japanese makers. The talk will explain the paradigm shifts and trends of the global mobile phone handset market, and resulting opportunities for Japanese mobile phone makers, and will indicate how these opportunities can actually be realized.

Download the presentation as a pdf-file here (in Japanese language)

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Last 2G phone shipped 8 months ago in Japan

Second generation (2G) phones silently bowed out of Japan’s market 8 months ago: the last 2G phones in Japan were shipped in December 2007. KDDI/AU switched off their 2G radio network in March this year, and both DoCoMo and SoftBank announced that they will switch off their slow and expensive 2G networks in the very near future (about 2009). Almost all other countries in the world either depend on legacy 2G networks only, or keep legacy 2G going while building out third generation in parallel. (Today’s 3G HSDPA phones transmit data up to 250 times faster than 2G phones did on a good day).

Dynamics of 3G mobile adoption in Japan: ratio of 3G and 2G mobile phones shipped in Japan
Dynamics of 3G mobile adoption in Japan: ratio of 3G and 2G mobile phones shipped in Japan

The last 2nd generation (2G) phones shipped in Japan in December 2007. Almost all other countries keep legacy 2G networks running – Japan just switches them off. More in our JCOMM report.

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SoftBank and KDDI win market share, Docomo loses

SoftBank and KDDI win market share, Docomo loses share

SoftBank from 4th to 1st position within less than 12 months… SoftBank‘s turn-round of x-Vodafone-Japan, went faster than many expected. Within less than 12 months SoftBank went from last place to first place in customer sign-ups, overtaking even KDDI‘s super-popular AU.

Willcom recently suffers from SoftBank‘s revival, as well as from eMobile‘s flat rate data services.

Find latest market share data in our report on Japan’s telecom industry.

Month-to-month net subscription growth/decline for Japan's mobile phone operators during the period when mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced
Month-to-month net subscription growth/decline for Japan’s mobile phone operators during the period when mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced

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First half FY2008 results: SoftBank and KDDI profits increase, DoCoMo’s trends is downward

In the last few days NTT, NTT-DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank announced their first half financial results. SoftBank and KDDI are the winners both for market share and for profits, while DoCoMo‘s results and market shares are sinking, and pulling the NTT-Group down at this time. Extrapolation indicates that DoCoMo‘s net profits may fall into the red about one year from now, drastic action is taken soon.

Net after-tax income of Japan's top three mobile operators NTT-docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. Currently docomo's net profits follows a downward trend, and risks to drop into the red, unless docomo takes drastic measures.
Net after-tax income of Japan’s top three mobile operators NTT-docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. Currently docomo’s net profits follows a downward trend, and risks to drop into the red, unless docomo takes drastic measures.

The thin lines show linear interpolations of quarterly net profit data. Our extrapolation seems to indicate that DoCoMo‘s net profit might fall into the red towards then end of calender year 2008 unless drastic action is taken. If current trends continue, SoftBank‘s net profits might exceed DoCoMo‘s mid-2008. We expect DoCoMo to take dramatic action before this happens.

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Mobile subscriptions grow by 5 million in Japan during 2006

Japan’s mobile subscriber numbers grew by about 5 million in 2006. Because of the much higher ARPU, Japan’s mobile market again grew by a couple of Finlands during 2006. A growing number of people have more than one mobile phone, to take advantage of the best rates, eg for mail, voice and data. We expect growth to continue. Our analysis below shows that KDDI’s and AU’s gains are a lot larger than a superficial view of the statistics reveals – see our Figure below. Find a detailed review in the latest edition of our JCOMM-Report.

Growth of Japan's mobile subscription numbers during 2006 - KDDI is the winner
During 2006 Japan’s mobile subscription base grew by about 5 million – KDDI gained about 4.2 million new subscriptions and is the clear winner, despite shutting down its TuKa 2G service during this period

KDDI‘s subscriber gains during 2006 are much bigger than a superficial analysis reveals (see figure above):

KDDI’s AU mobile service gained about 4.2 million new subscribers during 2006 – more than twice as many than DoCoMo’s cellular service, which gained about 1.8 million new subscriptions.

Currently, KDDI is shutting down it’s TuKa 2G service, and DoCoMo is shutting down it’s PHS service. Both services together lost more than 2 million subscribers during 2006 – this is a much larger movement than due to number portability introduced on Oct 24, 2006.

KDDI offers both number portability and mobile email portability, and reports surprise that many former low-end TuKa users moved to top-end high-speed WIN (2.4 Mbps) data services.

For KDDI, enticing TuKa subscribers to move to high-end/high-speed AU services was an excellent preparation for number portability, and helped KDDI win in the first stage.

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Briefing TeliaSonera top management

The day before the Finland-Japan Ubiquitous Society Conference in Tokyo, I briefed the top-management (CEO, CTO and other top managers) of TeliaSonera, on October 26, 2006.

The next day, October 27, 2006, the Finland-Japan Ubiquitous Society Conference was held. Tero Ojanpera, Exec VP and CTO of NOKIA, gave an overview of NOKIA’s vision of communications, other speakers and panelists included Juho Lipsanen, Finland CEO of TeliaSonera, KDDI Chairman Murakami.

Nokia CTO Tero Ojanpera talking at the Finland Japan Ubiquitous Society Conference
Nokia CTO Tero Ojanpera talking at the Finland Japan Ubiquitous Society Conference

Panel discussion with TeliaSonera CEO Juho Lipsanen and KDDI-Chairman Murakami.

Finland Japan Ubiquitous society meeting
Finland Japan Ubiquitous society meeting

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Bio-Nanotechnology in Japan – Impact on Foreign Corporations

Presentation at the EU-Japan Center Tokyo and at Stanford University on April 11, 2002 in the SPRING 2002 Seminar/Public Lecture Series – Topics in International Advanced Technology of the US-Asia Technology Management Center.

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M-Commerce in Japan

Presentation given by Gerhard Fasol, to the Asia/Pacific – Midwest Business Conference
Panel Presentation “E-commerce in Asia”, on Wednesday April 10, 2002, 8:00-9:30am, organized by the US Department of Commerce and the Illinois District Export Council.

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i-Mode: business models for mobile communications

Full day tutorial by Gerhard Fasol, organized by Seminario Internacional Prisma, held at the Hotel Metropolitan, Lisboa, March 21, 2002.

Attendance: about 50 executives from Portugal’s telecom operators, major consulting firms, and IT professionals attended the full day tutorial.

Download and update presentation as a pdf-file

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