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Galapagos effect Mobile

Mobile internet coming of age: i-Mode’s 18th birthday

The global mobile internet was born today 18 years ago, on February 22, 1999

by Gerhard Fasol

NTT Docomo announced the start of i-Mode on February 22, 1999 at a press conference in Tokyo

Today, 18 years ago, on February 22, 1999, Mari Matsunaga, Takeshi Natsuno, and Keiichi Enoki announced the start of the world’s first successful mobile internet service to a small number of people who made it to NTT Docomo’s press conference in Tokyo.

For many years, Japan was the global hotspot for mobile internet, mobile broadband, fixed net broadband (FTTH), there is a very long list of inventions, innovation, new services and products which were successfully brought to market in Japan, and in some cases it took 10 years or longer for these same services to succeed elsewhere in the world.

Examples of services and products which saw their invention, or first successful global mass market introduction in Japan include:

Inventing the mobile internet vs capturing global value

Undoubtedly the biggest success story emerging from Japan’s pioneering mobile internet days is SoftBank

After Vodafone acquired a controlling stake in Japan Telecom, it took Vodafone at least one year to realize that instead of a far east backwater waiting for Vodafone, Japan’s mobile market was actually years ahead of Europe at that time. By the time Vodafone realized that instead of sailing into an easy market, they had actually entered the world’s most ferociously competitive market, it was too late, Vodafone sold its Japan operations to SoftBank, which turned out the failing Vodafone-Japan within a few months of intense efforts. SoftBank’s acquisition of Vodafone-Japan and the successful turn-round became the basis for SoftBank to implement Masayoshi Son’s plan to create one of the world’s most important companies.

Other Japanese success stories resulting from pioneering the mobile internet

Japan has created one of the most vibrant smart phone games eco-system, with a large number of smart phone game companies growing, many listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Beyond games, Japan has created a vibrant sector of internet and mobile ventures, founded in the wave of Japan’s mobile internet and FTTH broadband adoption. However, because of Japan’s well known Galapagos syndrome, few have made it into global success stories yet. However, its not too late.

eMoji made it into MoMa, and the iPhone.

QR codes are all over China, however not monetized by Denso Wave, the Toyota family company which invented QR codes for automotive parts management.

Read up on Japan’s mobile and telecom sector

Copyright (c) 2017 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
disruption Galapagos effect Internet Mobile

Mobile internet’s 17th birthday

The global mobile internet revolution started with Docomo’s i-Mode on February 22, 1999

i-Mode, Happy Birthday!

i-mode menu NTT docomo
i-mode menu NTT docomo

Today, exactly 17 years ago, on February 22, 1999, NTT-Docomo launched the world’s first mobile internet service, i-Mode, at a press conference attended only by a handful of people.

NTT-Docomo created the foundation of the global mobile internet revolution, and i-Mode is still a cash-cow for Docomo in Japan, but Docomo did not succeed to capture global value.

i-Mode pioneered many business models, which are today monetized by Apple and Google (mainly via Android).

i-Mode also contributed to make Japan the world’s biggest App market in terms of cash revenues, and helped Japanese app companies to be among the world’s largest and top grossing.

Read in detail in our blog:
i-Mode was launched Feb. 22, 1999 in Tokyo – birth of mobile internet

Japan telecommunications industry report

Copyright 2016-2019 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
disruption electronics component makers Mobile mobile payment

i-Mode was launched February 22, 1999 in Tokyo – birth of mobile internet

The mobile internet was born 16 years ago in Japan

Galapagos-Syndrome: NTT Docomo failed to capture global value

On February 22, 1999, the mobile internet was born when Mari Matsunaga, Takeshi Natsuno and Keiichi Enoki launched Docomo’s i-Mode to a handful of people who had made the effort to the Press Conference introducing Docomo’s new i-Mode service. KDDI soon followed with EZweb, and J-Phone with Jsky (J-Phone was acquired by Vodafone, which was unable to manage J-Phone, Vodafone then sold the company to SoftBank).

i-Mode’s popularity soon exceeded any expectation: Docomo for some periods had to limit new subscriptions.

With Steve Jobs’ love for Japan, and Apple’s intense supplier relationships with Japan, its not farfetched to see connections between i-Mode and iPhone, in particular the i-Mode ecosystem and Java-based i-Appli’s are forerunners of today’s apps and apps-ecosystems.

At that time there was no Wikipedia, and Docomo had no English-language website at all, so our company Eurotechnology Japan KK’s information was more or less the only English language information openly available about i-Mode. We were bombarded by requests from many major semiconductor firms, telecom operators, investment banks, students and world-famous business schools for our i-Mode report and related business development and strategic work.

Learn about Japan’s telecom markets: read the 65th edition of our report.

Today 5 of the global top-10 top-grossing Apps are Japanese

While Docomo never managed to capture global value from inventing and first introducing the mobile internet, the No. 1 top-grossing company globally, and five of the top-10 globally top-grossing Apps for iOS and Google-Play combined are Japanese (source: App-Annie).

Japan’s app market is the world’s largest in terms of cash revenues

Its also no coincidence that in terms of cash value, Japan’s is the world’s largest app-market for iOS and Google-Play combined, bigger than the US market and the Chinese market in terms of cash value. (source: App-Annie).

App-Annie’s data to our knowledge only cover the iOS and Google-Play app-stores, not the i-Mode and other mobile internet businesses, so Japan’s actual mobile app economy is even larger than App-Annie data show.

Which are the top-grossing apps in Japan?

i-Mode is still alive and kicking – and a big business for Docomo

i-Mode is still today the mobile internet system for Docomo’s traditional flip-phones which are still an important part of the market, and recently made headlines since sales for traditional flip-phones were rising, while smartphone sales were (temporarly?) dropping.

i-Mode (and EZweb for KDDI, and Yahoo-mobile for SoftBank) will still be important business for some time to come in Japan.

Copyright (c) 2015 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Mobile

u-Japan and Japan’s Mobile Phone Industry

u-Japan follows i-Japan and e-Japan to take Japan to the forefront of global IT developments

Presentation at the EU-Japan Center for Industrial Cooperation, 12 October 2006

Title: “Japan’s Mobile Phone Industry and u-Japan”

Date and Time: Thursday, 12th October 2006, 17:00-19:00

Location (tentative, please check closer to the date for changes):
Main Conference Room 4F, EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, Tokyo

Agenda: u-Japan and Japan as the mobile internet pioneer

Japan’s mobile phone and broad-band markets are about 3-6 years ahead of Europe: new services are typically invented or first brought to market in Japan, 3-6 years earlier than in Europe. Internet in Japan is generally much faster and much cheaper than in Europe. For this reason and because of it’s size, Japan’s telecom markets are full of opportunities for European companies with the right products and the right strategy, and for investors with the necessary knowledge.

Japan’s mobile phone industry is notoriously difficult to understand for Europeans because it’s
market logic is very different from Europe’s, and because the pace of innovation and structural change is much faster, and because of the language barriers.

This talk will explain the driving forces behind recent dramatic changes in Japan’s mobile telecom sector, and will explain new changes that the “ubiquitous-Japan” (“u-Japan”) policy will bring in the near future.

Do you need to know what Europe’s mobile phone and internet markets will look like in 2010 or 2015? – Come to this talk and you will get a good look into Europe’s IT future about 5 years ahead, as well as Japan’s telecom markets today.

Background: Japan – the mobile internet pioneer, and Vodafone’s departure from Japan

Following Vodafone’s decision to end business in Japan and the announcement of the sale of Vodafone-Japan to SoftBank, this author has been asked to brief the Technology Attaches of the 25 EU Embassies in Tokyo on Japan’s mobile phone and telecom sector.

The EU Technology Attaches were particularly interested in the impact on Europe by the termination of by far the biggest ever European investment in Japan. Clearly it is also important to determine, what other European companies can learn from Vodafone’s experience.

Eurotechnology Japan KK has been awarded a contract by the European Union to benchmark Japan’s telecom sector vs EU and make recommendations.

More about Japan’s telecom sector

Read our report on Japan’s telecommunications markets

Copyright 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Categories
Mobile

Wireless internet grows by about 0.5 million/month in Japan

Japan’s mobile internet is a growth market with about 0.5 Million new subscriptions/month – Japan’s mobile internet grows by about one Finland per year, and even more in terms of ARPU!

This growth today is shared almost 50%/50% between DoCoMo’s i-Mode and KDDI’s EZweb.

Vodafone’s subscriber numbers on the other hand have been more or less stable around zero growth.

Growth of mobile internet subscriptions for DoCoMo's i-Mode and KDDI's EZweb combined stabilizes at 0.5 million/month, while Jsky stopped growing after acquisition by Vodafone and renaming to Vodafone-Live!
Growth of mobile internet subscriptions for DoCoMo’s i-Mode and KDDI’s EZweb combined stabilizes at 0.5 million/month, while Jsky stopped growing after acquisition by Vodafone and renaming to Vodafone-Live!

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

Categories
Internet Mobile

Cisco-VP: "In the future Internet business models will come from Japan"

In today’s Wallstreet Journal (Dec 7, 2004), Mike Volpi, Senior VP of CISCO’s routing technology group, is quoted as saying:

“In the past the internet business models, technologies and applications were all coming from the US, but today, through broadband, Japan is about to become the number one country in the area of Internet. In the future, I believe Internet business models will come from Japan.”

More about broadband and internet in Japan in our report: “Japan’s Telecommunication Industry” (pdf-file)

For the full article, see: “Fujitsu, Cisco plan to team up on routers” (Wallstreet Journal, Dec 7, 2004, subscription required)

CISCO announced to open an R&D Center in Japan in the first half of 2005: “Cisco Invests US $12 Million in Japanese R&D Center”.

Read an interview with Mike Volpi here: “Mike Volpi on Why Cisco is Investing in a New R&D Center in Tokyo, Japan”.